In a statement composer Strouse said, “Joe Stein, before he died, worked long and earnestly on a re-write of Rags — and I, with him. He loved my music as I have loved Stephen Schwartz’s lyrics — as much as anything all of us had ever done. The vagaries of the commercial theater being what they are (and a million composers might echo this from the grave) Rags had been consigned to the list of ‘also-rans.’ I still think of it as some of the best work we have ever done - a heartfelt tribute to our great country. How then to thank [ Lyric founding producer] Steven Jones and Lyric Stage for giving us back our vision — I don’t know — but these words are a small attempt.”
The upcoming production, which will boast a 35-piece orchestra, will be directed by Cheryl Denson with Jay Dias conducting the orchestra. The cast includes Amanda Passanante (Rebecca), Kristin Dausch (Bella), Lois Sonnier Hart (Rachel), Chet Monday (David), Shane Peterman (Nathan), Brian Hathaway (Saul), Jackie Kemp (Avram), Jonathan Bragg (Ben), Mikey Abrams, Stephen Bates, Sahara Glasener-Boles, Brendan Cyrus, Randy Dobbs, Michelle Foard, Emily Ford, Carlos Gomez, Tom Grugle, Martin Guerra, Amber Guest, Alan Hanna, Maranda Harrison, Joseph Holt, Isaac Jarrell, Morgan Mabry Mason, Lily Monday, Ashton Morales, Preston Pickett, Diane Powell, Mary Margaret Pyeatt, Daniel Saroni, Max Swarner, Scott Taylor, Keith Warren and Lucia Welch.
Rags, which features music by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and a book by Joseph Stein, played Broadway’s Mark Hellinger Theatre in August 1986. Although the run was brief, the musical garnered five Tony nominations and boasted a cast that included Teresa Stratas, Judy Kuhn, Terrence Mann, Lonny Price, Marcia Lewis, Dick Latessa and Larry Kert.
The musical, according to earlier press notes, tells the story of "Rebecca, an immigrant who finds herself and her young son, David, very much alone in the brand new world of America. Through Rebecca's encounters and relationships with others experiencing similar struggles, Rags tells of the American experience when the 'melting pot' was an ideal many hoped to be a part of." The lush score features such tunes as "Brand New World," "Blame It on the Summer Night," "Dancing with the Fools" and the title tune.”
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, a critical moment in both this production and the nation's history. For ticket information call (972) 252-2787 or visit www.lyricstage.org.