Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2019-02-13
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



THEATER REVIEW Ragtime: The Musical
by Brian Kirst

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Playwright: Terrence McNally

At: Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriott Dr., Lincolnshire. Tickets: or; $50-$60. Runs through: March 18

Many of us add a little fiction to our facts. True stories arrive with exaggerations to make them more interesting. Even our lies can hint at a broader picture. Of course, few have combined real-life circumstances with imaginary happenings like E.L. Doctorow. His award-winning 1975 book Ragtime wove historical figures into a narrative with characters that he created, painting a picture of the beauty and tragedy of the early 20th century.

The 1998 musical adaptation of this work, naturally, is unable to capture the full scope of Doctorow's book. But by concentrating on a Black musician named Coalhouse Walker, Jr. and on the rich white family that becomes ingrained in his life, it definitely succeeds in rousing up the social and spiritual effects of its source. Indeed, the original production won multiple Tony and Drama Desk Awards, a testament to its power. Nicely, Marriott Theatre's current production of Ragtime: The Musical retains that impassioned drive, accentuated by sumptuous costuming and Broadway caliber production numbers.

Opening up on the observations of a powerful white fireworks magnate and his kin, there are hints of change in the air almost immediately here. The restless, syncopated rhythm of ragtime music permeates society. Immigrants arrive in droves, seeking their fortunes. Soon, an abandoned baby is left under this well-to-do family's porch. The matriarch takes pity upon the boy and his mother, welcoming them into their home. Sarah, the child's mother, is nearly speechless with sorrow.

Eventually, the boy's father Coalhouse is making regular visits to the home, filling it with music and trying to win back Sarah's trust. Just as all seems to be going well, acts of racist violence erupt, sending Coalhouse into a rampage and the extended family that has grown to love him into various modes of doubt, destruction and self discovery.

Naturally, the majesty of such circumstances would seemingly be hard to capture in Marriott's theater in the round setting, but director Nick Bowling works with a precise eye here, layering multiple characters and chorus members with a deft touch.

Emotionally, he and his talented cast capture the overriding themes of the show and prove that, 20 years after its debut, they are still vital and prescient notions. Black blood is still being shed on our streets and our immigrants still fight daily to feel safe in their adopted home.

Of course, the words of legendary gay playwright Terrence McNally, who wrote the book, and the sweep of queer composer Stephen Flaherty's music add nuances and depth to every outsider portrayed here, whether it be acclaimed activist Emma Goldman or a poor Harlem barmaid joining in the big fight to be heard. Their contributions make this ( and seemingly every ) production of Ragtime forever universal.

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

THEATER REVIEW The Total Bent 2019-02-15 - Authors: Stew and Heidi Rodewald At: The Den Theatre, 1616 N. Wells St. Tickets:; $35. Runs through: March 10 ...

Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Fulfillment Center 2019-02-13 - Playwright: Abe Koogler At: A Red Orchid Theatre, 1531 N. Wells St. Tickets: $30-40; Runs through: March 24 These ...

Gay News

Nederlander Theatre lights marquee 2019-02-13 - Broadway In Chicago's newly named James M. Nederlander Theatre recently lit its marquee for the first time. The venue, at 24 W. ...

Gay News

The Jeff Awards to present panel on Latinx Theater 2019-02-12 - February 12, 2019, Chicago, IL - The Jeff Awards meeting on Monday, February 18, 2019 at the Greenhouse Theater will include a panel ...

Gay News

SPOTLIGHT on Underscore Theatre's Chicago Musical Theatre Festival 2019-02-12 - Is the next Hamilton lurking in Chicago? Stranger things have happened. Underscore Theatre's ambitious 5th Annual Chicago Musical Theatre Festival includes nine concert ...

Gay News

Critics' Picks 2019-02-12 - A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder, Porchlight Music Theatre at the Ruth Page Auditorium, through March 16. A score that hearkens to ...

Gay News

THEATER REVIEW A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder 2019-02-12 - Playwright: Book by Robert L. Freedman, music by Steven Lutvak, lyrics by Robert L. Freedman and Steven Lutvak At: Porchlight Music Theater at ...

Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Pipeline 2019-02-12 - Playwright: Dominique Morisseau At: Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave.. Tickets: $27-60; . Runs through: March 3 Thinking about ...

Gay News

Afterglow opening at Pride Arts Center March 27 2019-02-09 - Chicago, IL - Casting for the Chicago Premiere of AFTERGLOW, an off-Broadway hit from 2017 exploring the emotional, intellectual, and physical connections between ...

Gay News

Pride Films and Plays offers Buyer & Cellar, comedy of life in Streisand's basement 2019-02-09 - Pride Films and Plays will mount Jonathan Tolin's one-man play BUYER & CELLAR in the Broadway Theater of the Pride Arts Center, according ...


Copyright © 2019 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.








About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.