Rohan PrestonStar Tribune
March 22, 2017
Theater Latte Da is restaging its powerful production of “Ragtime” for audiences in the northwest and southeast next season.
Theater founder and director Peter Rothstein has been tapped to remount his re-imagined version of the musical for the 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle in the fall and the Asolo Repertory Theatre in Sarasota in spring 2018.
With a book by Terrence McNally, music by Stephen Flaherty and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, “Ragtime” tells of the American dream as seen by three groups: blacks, whites and immigrant Jews. The size of the show has made it somewhat prohibitively expensive to stage, since it usually has a cast with three distinct groupings of people.
Rothstein decided to stage the show with a slimmed down cast where all the players support each of the three interlocking narratives.
“The metaphor there, that all the people are responsible for each other’s stories, adds another layer to show,” said Rothstein.
He added: “There are reductions that feel like reductions and reductions that feel like bold choices. According to the audience response and reviews, this one worked.”
Rothstein will take most of his creative team with him, including scenic designer Michael Hoover, costume designer Trevor Bowen and choreographer Kelli Foster Warder.
He’s not sure if he will be able to take his actors. In the Twin Cities, the production starred David Murray as Coalhouse Walker Jr. and Traci Allen Shannon as his wife (pictured in this photo by Dan Norman.). Other headliners were Britta Ollmann as the white mother, Sasha Andreev as immigrant Tateh and Andre Shoals as Booker T. Washington.
Latte Da has toured “All is Calm” at the holidays for the past 10 years.
“But this is the first time we’ll take a production that originated here elsewhere,” said Rothstein. “I’m super-excited about it. The piece created such needed dialogue here and we hope that it will instigate similar dialogue in these communities, too.”