Coalhouse Walker Jr. is a fiery black piano man who demands
retribution when his Model T is destroyed by a mob of white troublemakers.
Walker's love interest is a young girl named Sarah--played in
the Broadway production by Tony Award-winning actress Audra McDonald--who
has been taken in by a WASP family ruled by "Father,"
a patriarchal figure who dominates his household (and his submissive
wife) with his overbearing presence. Tateh is a Jewish immigrant
who unwittingly finds himself involved in the birth of the motion
picture industry after inventing a flip book for his daughter.
An adaptation of E.L. Doctorow's novel, Ragtime takes
us into the lives of these characters in a tale of turn-of-the-century
America that also features such historical figures as Harry Houdini,
Booker T. Washington, J.P. Morgan and Henry Ford.
Before moving to Broadway, the show was previewed in Toronto
and at the Shubert Theater in Los Angeles. Ragtime officially
opened its Broadway run at the new Ford Center for the Performing
Arts on January 18, 1998.
Flaherty and Ahrens worked together previously on the Broadway
Musicals Once Upon This Island and the remake of My
Favorite Year. Librettist Terence McNally is the author of
such plays as Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune, Love!
Valour! Compassion!, and Master Class. He also wrote
the libretto for Kiss of the Spider Woman.
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