“Social class, freedom, prejudice, hope and despair” come to life in the Flint Rep’s production of Ragtime opening June 9

By Tom Travis

Ragtime, the musical, produced by FIM Flint Rep and appearing at Elgood Theatre from June 9 through 25, is set at the dawn of a new century.  Everything is changing and anything is possible. Ragtime is an intimate, chamber-style telling of a 1998 Tony Award-winning musical for best book and best original score.

Adapted from E.L. Doctorow’s novel of the same name and a musical score by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, the musical brings the tension-filled streets of early 20th century New York to life through the timeless stories of three Americans: a White female socialite, a determined Jewish immigrant artist, and a daring Black musician. Each story reveals the joys and perils of navigating social class, freedom, prejudice, hope and despair, helping patrons see the stories of today’s Americans in a new way.

Tickets can be purchased at tickets.thefim.org, FIM ticket center at Whiting Auditorium, Capitol Theatre or by calling (810) 237-7333.

Ragtime has a very hopeful trajectory that we all learn to live and love each other. In the end, it takes a lot of pain and a lot of grace to get there but we do eventually get there,” actor Ben Cherry, playing the character of Tateh in Ragtime told East Village Magazine in a phone interview.

“I think that the best way for all of us to move forward and in modern times is through telling the stories of the past and conversing and talking about the problems and divisions that still exist. I think that what this play does is open a conversation about those things which of course are here like bigotry, hatred and the fear of people who are different than us,” Cherry added.

“One challenge in this smaller version of Ragtime is how intimate the storytelling can be,”  Cherry said.  “Ragtime is usually done on a huge Broadway stage with 1,000 or more seats. Here we’ve got the people —  the audience will be right up in it with us. And to take a huge production and make it even more personal than it is and bring the audience to us in such a small beautiful space… it’s really exciting to tackle.”

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Cherry portrays the character Tateh (which means Father in Hebrew), an immigrant bringing his little girl to American to start a new life. Tateh is full of dreams and hopes for the future and in which are all tried and tested.

The landmark musical is directed by Flint Rep producing artistic director Michael Lluberes ( who had re-imagined The Fantasticks), with choreography by Cy Paolantonio and music direction by Cole P. Abod. The cast includes: David Aron Damane (Broadway’s The Book of Mormon) as Coalhouse Walker Jr.; Robyne Parrish as Mother; Ben Cherry (Broadway’s Indecent) as Tateh, and Elexis Morton (DCPA’s The Color Purple) as Sarah. Additional cast members include Noah Canales, Emi Fishman, Chris French, Joel Gelman, Bryana Hall, Zachary Keller, Commodore C. Primous III, Karen Sheridan, Ronald E. Spriggs, Cael Cech and Marigold Entrekin.

“We’re so excited to produce a bold new take on this quintessential American musical,” Lluberes said. “The issues explored in Ragtime – from racial injustice to immigrant rights and women’s rights – couldn’t be more relevant to today. We’re thrilled to invite audiences to rediscover this epic musical in an intimate new way.”

Ragtime opens Friday June 9  at the Elgood Theatre and run through June 25.  Tickets are available at www.tickets.thefim.org, at the FIM Ticket Center box offices at FIM Whiting Auditorium and FIM Capitol Theatre, or by calling (810) 237-7333. Genesee County residents receive a 30 percent discount as a benefit of the Genesee County Arts Education and Cultural Enrichment Millage.

EVM Managing Editor Tom Travis can be reached at tomntravis@gmail.com.

Author: Tom Travis

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