Last evening I again had the pleasure of attending another Main Stage Village Production. My two friends and I met in the lobby, purchased our tickets and eagerly waited for what was to come. When the doors opened we made our way into the theatre to find seats. There was a very good crowd for a Thursday night. The theatre was ¾ full.
Village Productions uses general seating, which I prefer. The seats are arranged in a “u” shape for this production. We decided to try sitting in a section other than the large straight-on view of the stage area. We sat on the left side in a section that narrowly stretches along the side wall. This was good because we were closer to the actors. Actors came and went directly behind us throughout the performance. I enjoyed this vantage point because of the opportunity to hear each voice (other than soloists) singing.
Ragtime certainly speaks to today’s audience. Many of the struggles this musical addresses are still around. We still have racism, classism, sexism and immigration issues. While people may not be as overt in this day and age, these problems still plague our society. I will caution that racial epithets and cursing are part of the script. There were some gasps by the audience when they were used. Let me just say it brings home the point!
What always amazes me is the lack of lavish sets and props. The acting draws you in and speaks for itself. There is just enough to get the job done. Another wonderful thing about Village Productions is the use of live music. The orchestra is always first-rate! No canned music here! The program lists 14 musicians and a conductor. Impressive! Hat tip to Music Director Deborah Stimson-Snow for a job well done!
The audience is warned that there are simulated gun shots and strobe lights used during the production. It does help knowing this ahead of time so you aren’t startled!
Ragtime takes place 100 years ago. Our country was going through a period of enormous change. New inventions, familial changes, civil rights and work-place struggles all propelled society forward and changed life as we knew it. America was optimistic about its future and anything seemed possible.
Ragtime is the best show I have seen thus far at the TriPAC. The level of performance was inspiring. The singing was phenomenal. In my opinion, this was the strongest cast vocally of any musical I have attended there. The story is compelling and the characters are well developed. The audience becomes emotionally involved. Ragtime Director, Neal Newman gets a RoysRants gold star for an outstanding job!
Normally I list stand-out performances in my review. All the actors are deserving of high praise for their performances. Everyone was playing their “A” game last night. There are a few people I would like to mention:
Julie Eurillo delivered a brilliant performance as Mother. A gorgeous voice with tremendous control!
Bill Kiesling’s portrayal of Father was on the money. Bill captured the essence of the “privileged white man” of this era and also delivered a strong vocal performance.
Gary Giles, who we came to greatly admire in The Wiz, put every fiber of his being into portraying Coalhouse Walker. Gary has a soulful voice and is an amazing actor.
Chartel Findlater was riveting as Sarah. Chartel’s depth of emotion, coupled with her stunning voice, was perfect for this pivotal role.
Gregory Kasander delivered an emotionally charged performance as Younger Brother. We knew Gregory could act after seeing him in Noises Off. In this performance we were equally impressed with his singing ability.
Carly Crowley was awesome in her role as Evelyn Nesbit. Evelyn was the Paris Hilton of her day…famous for being famous. Carly delivered some much-needed comic relief, perfectly captured her character’s eccentricities and gave a strong vocal performance.
Ben Fried as Tateh was another superb casting decision. Ben’s performance was believable and we felt his pain. Ben was also vocally outstanding.
The funniest thing I have seen in a long time was Act II, Scene 2: The Polo Grounds. Father takes Little Boy to his first baseball game. He tells Little Boy what a noble game baseball is. When they arrive, it is anything but. I laughed until I cried during What a Game!
I would urge you to take advantage of this opportunity while it is still playing. Executive Director, Marta Kiesling and her staff are to be commended for providing such high-caliber entertainment to the Greater Pottstown area. We give this production a RoysRants two thumbs up!
Ragtime is playing until June 20th at the Tri-County Performing Arts Center, 245 E. High Street in downtown Pottstown.
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