The national tour of Ragtime that was abandoned by financially troubled Livent but resurrected by Pace Theatrical Group, winds up its Paramount Theatre run in Seattle Jan. 3, 1999 before journeying on to Boston.
Lora Marini of Pace in Seattle said business has been strong there, although "packed houses" are not usual for any show at the nearly-3,000 seat Paramount. She said audience feedback has been enthusiastic for the tour, which almost didn't make it to Seattle for the Dec. 2 first performance.
Pace took over the show Nov. 19 in Minneapolis, two days after Livent announced it would shut down the expensive-to-run tour. Pace promised to keep the 55-member cast and large crew employed at least for the Seattle Paramount and Boston Colonial Theatre dates (both are Pace-booked venues). Producer Livent filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy papers Nov. 18 and has been scrambling for financing ever since. On Dec. 30 they got some good news: the court allowed the company $11.5 million in Debtor-in Possession financing from an investment management firm. (For details, please see our news story, "Livent Secures Second Half of Emergency Funding; Delays Third Quarter Report.")
During the Seattle run of Ragtime, Alton Fitzgerald White left the company as Coalhouse Walker Jr. to take over the role on Broadway, beginning Dec. 29 (replacing original Brian Stokes Mitchell). Lawrence Hamilton is now the tour's Coalhouse.
Boston dates are Jan. 20-March 28, 1999. Pace is expected to shut down the tour after Boston and trim the cast and scenic elements to make the costly tour more financially viable. Previously announced cities and dates for the tour -- San Francisco, for example, in spring 1999 -- will likely be altered. However, Pace has made no official announcement about the future of the Ragtime tour after Boston.
In November 1998, Georgiana Young of Pace Theatrical Group in New York told Playbill On-Line Pace intended to get the tour to Boston's Colonial Theatre, but wouldn't comment beyond. "Let's get the show to Boston and then let's see where we go from there," Young said.
Young, Pace vice president of business development and corporate communications, told Playbill On-Line, "It's a complex process made more complex by the fact that it's subject to the rulings of a bankruptcy court."
Continuing in principal roles in Boston in the musical about social collisions in America, circa 1904-15 are Michael Rupert as Tateh, Rebecca Eichenberger as Mother, Darlesia Cearcy as Sarah and Cris Groenendaal as Father.The musical is set in and around New York and characters travel to "Boston and environs" in one scene, where millworkers strike in Lawrence, MA.
Boston press rep David Balsom said once the Colonial run was confirmed by Pace (and the bankruptcy court OK'd Pace's takeover), ticket sales flowed as if "floodgates were open," and half the run was sold out by Christmas. In early December, Regan Byrne of the Colonial Theatre said $3.1 million in tickets had been sold.
For Seattle ticket information, call (206) 292-2787.
For information about the Boston run at the Colonial Theatre, call (617) 931-ARTS.