Finding a ticket to Ragtime at Boston's Colonial Theatre in its final weekend -- it closes March 28 -- will not be easy.
The lauded tour, said to fit snugly in the intimate Colonial, is such a hit with audiences there that only scattered seats are available for the final three days, March 26-28, of its 79-performance run.
The tour shuts down after Boston and will be revived and relaunched on a smaller scale for an extended tour into 2000. The original creative team, including director Frank Galati, will reconceive the show for the new tour from Pace Theatricals.
Those close to Ragtime, a multiple 1998 Tony Award-winner for its book by Terrence McNally and rag-influenced score by lyricist Lynn Ahrens and composer Stephen Flaherty, suggest the show is richly human enough that it will survive -- some say, thrive -- with a more human, intimate scale.
Critics have alternately praised the show for its sweep and humanity, and called it physically cold and impersonal. Some theatregoers used to spectacle and wanting a bang for their buck, have grumbled about a possible scale-back on internet message boards. While on its current tour, an Act Two magic act featuring character Harry Houdini, was scaled back to make it less costly and less time-consuming to ship and install. Act Two now begins with “Coalhouse’s Soliloquy.”
In the musical Ragtime, characters inspired by the E.L. Doctorow novel travel from New York City to "Boston and environs," and on Jan. 21 the national tour of the show itself officially opened (after one preview) at Boston's Colonial.
Continuing in principal or featured roles in the musical about social collisions in America, circa 1904-15, are Lawrence Hamilton as Coalhouse, Michael Rupert as Tateh, Rebecca Eichenberger as Mother, Darlesia Cearcy as Sarah and Cris Groenendaal as Father.
The Colonial is an appropriate setting for turn-of-century musical: The 1,680-seat theatre was built in 1900.
Most of the cast has been together since the April 1998 opening of the tour in Washington, D.C., and all but Hamilton were on tour when producer Livent Inc. announced it would prematurely shut down the tour in November 1998 due to financial problems plaguing the organization.
Pace Theatrical Group quickly stepped in, put up money and guaranteed its next two dates, at Pace-run houses, in Seattle (Dec. 2, 1998-Jan. 3, 1999) and Boston.
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, 1998 (replacing original Brian Stokes Mitchell). Lawrence Hamilton took over in Seattle.
For information about the Boston run of Ragtime at the Colonial Theatre, call (617) 931-ARTS.