Bay Street Theater’s powerful production of the musical “Ragtime” mesmerized the audience and at the end had them on their feet applauding wildly. “Ragtime” is a must see. There are so many individual roof raising performances, yet the show is so much more than the sum of these amazing exhibitions of top level singing, dancing and physical acting. The drama is spellbinding. “Ragtime,” is running at the Bay Street Theater until August 28th, Visit www.baystreet.org for all information about show times and ticket purchases.
The audience was in on this production right from the get-go. There was thunderous applause after various powerful individual song performances along with the whole troupe numbers. One could see big smiles throughout the audience as the show progressed. They knew they were seeing something special. One cannot put into words the energy after the show ended and the thunderous applause that filled the theater.
“Ragtime” book is by Terrence McNally but based on a novel by E.L. Doctorow. The lyrics are by Lynn Ahern and the music by Stephen Flaherty. Yet it is the powerful adaptation by Director Will Pomerantz that launches this production into the stratosphere. His brilliant concept of using the Bay Street stage to maximize sight lines, sound projection and pure drama is chess master- like. Will Pomerantz is also the Associate Artistic Director at Bay Street Theater. A salute must go out to Artistic Director Scott Schwartz and Executive Director Tracy Mitchell and the Bay Street Board for “going big,” on this production. The resounding opening night applause proved their wisdom.
One could compose multiple columns on the performances of the largest cast (17 actors) to ever grace the Bay Street stage. Unfortunately for brevity I can only point out the outstanding five performances that I believe drove the show the most.
Derrick Davis, who plays “Coalhouse” is a powerhouse of talented energy that bursts about the stage with a most memorable performance. His voice practically blew the roof off the theater.
Lora Lee Gayer also stood out as “Mother.” Her singing was beautiful, poetic and she, too, almost launched the theater roof into the harbor. She has a wonderful stage presence and a great smile.
Kyrie Courter plays Sara, perhaps the heartbeat of the production. Her acting grace and elegance also manifest itself in her song. She is a pure talent glowing in this production.
Then there is the performance of Zackary Prince. He plays Tateh, with a unique window of both promise, emotion and then power. He brings the promise that is America out with a profound salient performance.
Cathryn Wake played Evelyn Nesbit, and she captured the audience with phenomenal facial expressions, witty phrasing in her songs and a particular kinetic stage energy that cannot be taught.
The other twelve members of the cast were outstanding with not one single weak link.
Daniel Jenkins is perceptive as “Father.” Harrison Bryan is energetic as “Younger Brother.” Davon Williams is fantastic as “Booker T. Washington.” Clyde Voce shows off his versatility in his multiple roles. Rachel Parker is notable in her various roles. Taylor Jackson delivers as “Harlem Woman.” Victoria Huston-Elem has wonderful comedic skills and is a great “Emma Goldman.” Ryan M. Hunt showed his versatility with his roles throughout the production. Cecelia Ticktin is admirable as Kathleen. Will Hantz has great youthfulness as “The Boy.” Sonnie Betts is a scene magnet with her facial expressions and is a mini-star in her role as “The Girl.” Autumn Miller and Tatumn Miller are perfect as the “Young Coalhouse and “Future Coalhouse,” respectively.
Hunter Kaczorowski is to be applauded for brilliant Costume Design. Terrific Lighting by Mike Billings, and kudos to Ryan Touchey for the wonderful music from the Orchestra.