Casting for other major principal roles also have been announced. The 58-member company will be headed by Mitchell, Mazzie, Peter Friedman, two-time Tony Award-winner Audra McDonald and Canadian Steven Sutcliffe, all of whom have previously essayed their roles in either the York University readings or the May workshop production at The Joey and Toby Tanenbaum Opera Centre.
The musical adaptation of E. L. Doctorow's classic novel will have its premiere Sunday, Dec. 8, 1996 at Toronto's Ford Centre for the Performing Arts, following a series of preview performances beginning Nov. 19.
Mitchell stars as the talented ragtime pianist "Coalhouse Walker Jr.," a charismatic man of vision and integrity, whose tragic fate is played out in epic fashion. He was most recently seen on Broadway starring as Valentin, opposite Vanessa Williams, in Livent's production of Kiss of the Spider Woman. Mitchell made a dazzling debut on Broadway in the musical Mail, and earned critical acclaim for his starring roles in David Merrick's production of Oh, Kay! And as another famous musician, Jelly Roll Morton, in Jelly's Last Jam.
Peter Friedman plays the Jewish immigrant "Tateh," determined to create a new life in America for himself and his young daughter. His Broadway credits include leading roles in The Heidi Chronicles, Execution of Justice, and Piaf. Friedman's films have included Safe, Blink, Single White Female, The Seventh Sign, Prince of the City and Daniel. He has been seen on television in "New York News," "Law and Order," "The Heidi Chronicles," "Brooklyn Bridge" and "Finnegan Begin Again
Mazzie will portray "Mother," an enlightened woman, torn between marital obligation and a deepening passion for social justice, adventure and personal fulfillment. Mazzie was nominated for a Tony Award for her performance as the radiant beauty, Clara, in Stephen Sondheim's Passion, and recreates her role in the upcoming PBS Television production to be broadcast this September. Her other New York and touring credits include Into The Woods, Big River, Out of This World, And the World Goes Round, and Doonesbury. Mazzie was last seen in Toronto, starring opposite Colm Wilkinson, in the Livent production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Music of the Night.
Audra McDonald, one of the most celebrated actresses to emerge on Broadway in years, will play Sarah, an innocent young mother who must rise above personal and social turmoil, as she desperately seeks justice for her lover Coalhouse Walker Jr. and their infant son. McDonald received both the 1996 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play and the 1996 LA Ovation Award for her role in Terrence McNally's Master Class. She also received the 1994 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical, as well as the Drama Desk Award, Outer Critics Circle Award and Theatre World Award for her portrayal of Carrie Pipperidge in Lincoln Center's production of Carousel. She made her Broadway debut in The Secret Garden and re-created the role of The Ayah; on the show's national tour.
Sutcliffe, a veteran of the Shaw Festival, plays Mother's Younger Brother, a solitary misfit, drawn to the new age of ragtime, who sets out on an impassioned campaign for justice. Sutcliffe has performed in Canada's leading regional theatres, and his credits include the starring role of Prior Walter in The Manitoba Theatre production of Angels in America. For Livent, he appeared in the Livent Summer Festival workshops of A Fabulous Party and portrayed the title role in Leslie Arden's The House of Martin Guerre. At the Citadel Theatre, for director Robin Phillips, his work includes Trofimov in The Cherry Orchard, Filch in The Beggar's Opera and Oliver Hix in The Music Man.
Tickets for Ragtime are available at the Ford Centre for the Performing Arts Box Office, all Ticketmaster locations, or by calling the LIVENT ENTERTAINMENT LINE at (416) 872-2222.