Bway's Ragtime To Get All-New Leads, Incl. Rubinstein, Alton White & LaChanze

News   Bway's Ragtime To Get All-New Leads, Incl. Rubinstein, Alton White & LaChanze
 
As late December nears, they might as well rename Broadway's Ragtime "New Faces Of 1999." Most of the show's leads are leaving, to be replaced by a mix of veterans and up-and-coming performers.
Donna Bullock as Mother; LaChanze as Sarah.
Donna Bullock as Mother; LaChanze as Sarah. Photo by Photos by Joan Marcus

Dec. 20, Peter Friedman (Tateh) & Marin Mazzie (Mother) leave; replacing them are John Rubinstein (Getting Away With Murder) and Donna Bullock (of the Vancouver, L.A. Ragtimes and the film, "Air Force One.")

Dec. 27: Audra McDonald (Sarah) leaves; LaChanze (Company) takes over.

Brian Stokes Mitchell (Coalhouse) also leaves Dec. 27, to be replaced by Alton White. Steven Sutcliffe (Mother's Younger Brother) also departs, to be replaced by Scott Carollo who played the role in the L.A. company.

All of the above performers departing Ragtime have been with show since rehearsals began in Toronto in Sept. 1996. Judy Kaye (Emma Goldman), Mark Jacoby (Father) and Tommy Hollis (Booker T.) will stay with the show indefinitely.

Also leaving the show are the "Little Girl and Boy": Lea Michele (to be replaced by Elizabeth Lundberg and Dara Paige Bloomfield, alternating in the role) and Alex Strange. *

Ragtime, an epic musical about the dreams and realities of early 20th century America, opened on Broadway Jan. 18.

With music by Stephen Flaherty, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and a book by Terrence McNally, Ragtime opened at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts, a brand new $22.5 million theatre built on the formerly blighted West 42nd Street expressly for this production. It stands on the site of two classic Broadway houses, the Lyric and the Apollo, which were demolished, but architectural details of which were incorporated into the new theatre.

Based on the novel of the same name by E.L. Doctorow, Ragtime underwent a two-year gestation under the auspices of Toronto theatre mogul Garth Drabinsky. Since then, he has been deposed under allegations of financial mismanagement, with Livent scrambling for funds to keep its current (Ragtime, Fosse) and upcoming (Seussical) projects going.

Ragtime opened in Toronto in Dec. 1996 and then in Los Angeles in June 1997, winning top theatre awards in both cities.

Ragtime is directed by Tony winner Frank Galati (The Grapes of Wrath) of Chicago. Choreography is by Graciela Daniele, who staged Ahrens & Flaherty's Broadway musical Once on This Island. Ahrens & Flaherty also wrote My Favorite Year and Lucky Stiff for the stage, and the score for the animated film Anastasia, which opened in November 1997.

Librettist Terrence McNally wrote Love! Valour! Compassion!, Master Class, Corpus Christi, The Lisbon Traviata and many other plays. Like the novel, his book mixes fictional characters and historical ones in telling the story of Coalhouse Walker Jr., a black man who buys a Model T Ford, setting off a chain of events that involve the highest and lowest levels of New York City society -- along with magician Harry Houdini, industrialist Henry Ford, celebrity Evelyn Nesbit, black leader Booker T. Washington, architect Sanford White, revolutionary Emma Goldman, Admiral Peary, a Latvian immigrant who becomes a movie director, and a not-so-quiet family in suburban New Rochelle, N.Y. All are characters in the sweeping musical.

The 32-song score includes "Wheels of a Dream," "Gliding," "Back To Before," "Sarah Brown Eyes," "Buffalo Nickel Photoplay Inc.," "Crime of the Century," "Make Them Hear You" and the title number.

Tickets for the Broadway production are on sale at (212) 307-4100.

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