CMU School of Drama

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Ragtime at Carnegie Mellon School of Drama

Theater Reviews + Features | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper: Ragtime is a dawning: a new age, new life and new sounds. The anthemic 1996 musical portrays the conflicts at the turn of the 20th century between African Americans, Eastern European immigrants and upper-class white suburbanites. (Sound relevant?) With Stephen Flaherty’s soaring score, the lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and Terrence McNally’s book turn something full of nostalgic Americana into a harrowingly relevant, tangible story.

2 comments:

Delaney Johnson said...

This review of Ragtime is unique and cohesive. It does not fall short of praising the show for its many successes, but it also dives deeper beyond pretty images and good singers to evaluate the effectiveness of the show and what worked and what didn't. This review praises and criticizes but does so with forethought and explanation that gives the reviewer body and respect from its reader. I saw the show and I still believe that I should trust this review just based on the way its written. One criticism I have of this review is that it simply breezes over the technical portions of the show and focusses mostly on plot, staging and acting. Although a description of the set is give, no other technical part of the show is mentioned besides a very straight forward criticism of the media in the production. This being said, I also agree with the statement that ragtime could have used some more moments of stillness. The show itself was so elaborate, so a break from the dance song and moving set for a moment or intimate emotion would have really hit home the meaning of the very well-timed piece in American history.

Angel Zhou said...

As a person who was on costume crew for Ragtime, I had to give away all of my complimentary tickets – and, apart from raving reviews of the talent in the show, every single person who received a ticket told me the same thing: Ragtime was dauntingly relevant in the present day. The crazier thing is, Ragtime was not chosen in a response to the current United States’ political scene; it was decided a long while ago due to the influence of Stephen Flaherty.

I’m surprised the author of this article does not discuss very far into his opinions of the performance itself – I almost feel as though it is impossible to ignore the talent and brilliance that went into every aspect of this show. However, he did mention some of his criticism of the show – e.g., its overly-moving nature, which I honestly believe should be attributed to the script, not the play. Ragtime is already about two and a half hours in length – slowing it down could drag the show on a little too much.

It is also interesting to see some of the glimpses that the audience caught when watching this show, since I was only ever able to see a costume-less and prop-less rehearsal. The silhouette mentioned at the end makes so much sense, though, especially with respect to Tateh’s original occupation in America.