John Szablewski Previews

First Look: ‘Ragtime’ at MusicalFare Theatre

There are shows that are ahead of their time. There are shows that are written, produced, and close before they are able to get their due. Then they get rediscovered and are more topical than ever before. This is what happened to the show “Ragtime” the 1998 Broadway musical with a book by Terrence McNally and music and lyrics by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens respectfully.

“This show is more relatable today than it was in 1998,” says Randy Kramer, who is directing the production. “The show deals in themes of immigration, race, and financial inequality, the topics that are being discussed daily in the news.” MusicalFare brings this regional premiere to their intimate stage beginning February 13.

“I have always loved this musical, and last season when we produced “Violet” I realized how powerful that show was on our stage,” says Kramer, “the show was strong and I thought, imagine ‘Ragtime’ in this space.”

This is a huge undertaking for a theatre whose stage is not that large. “We have eighteen people in this cast, many of whom have never worked with us before,” says Kramer, “it is a challenge, and we go into every production knowing that we need to figure these challenges out. Audiences like to see new people.

With such topical themes, Kramer says that something clicked when another large show that dealt with similar themes came to Buffalo. “I was sitting in ‘Hamilton’ and when we got to the end of act-one, I turned to my wife and said, wow, I have a greater appreciation for the standards and expectations our founding fathers had when they shaped our country.”

Kramer says that ‘Ragtime’ was not chosen to start a political football game, but he hopes that the audiences who come to see it can appreciate the America that it discusses.

The show also includes a young cast, and Kramer says he was reminded of why creating theatre is so magical. “We have a few members of the cast who are just starting out and they are so excited to be apart of the process, and to learn, and I realized that many of us have taken this process for granted. The magic of the process is what creates memorable theatre.”

“Ragtime” opens February 13, 2019 and is presented at MusicalFare Theatre. For more information, click here.