Already the most highly praised and touted musical expected for the 1997-98 Broadway season, Ragtime is still making minor adjustments to its Toronto premiere production, some of which will make their way to the upcoming Los Angeles mounting and to Broadway.
Norman Zagier, spokesman for Livent Inc., said "Ragtime's creative team met in January. It's the first time they've reconvened since the Toronto opening in [December]. They made minor changes and started incorporating them in February And March." Changes include, "some transpositions, new lines, new underscoring." The most visible revision is to the finale, which was changed from a reprise of title song, "Ragtime," to a reprise of "Wheels of a Dream." The reason? "To provide a different kind of emotional closing to the show," said Zagier. "`Wheels' brings the Coalhouse-Sarah story full circle in a way that "Ragtime" might not have."
The Los Angeles production begins previews May 26 for a June 15 opening. Starring there will be original cast-member Brian Stokes Mitchell (Coalhouse), alongside John Rubinstein as Tateh; LaChanze as Sarah, Marcia Mitzman-Gavin as the mother, Judy Kaye as Emma Goldman, Jason Graae as Houdini, Susan Wood as Evelyn Nesbitt; and John Dossett as the father.
The Toronto production will run through Aug. 31, then take a hiatus and start previews on Broadway Dec. 26. Mitchell will leave the L.A. production be with the original Toronto cast on Broadway. Those names include Mark Jacoby (Show Boat) as Father, Marin Mazzie (Passion) as Mother, Audra McDonald (Carousel and Master Class) as Sarah, Steven Sutcliffe as Mother's Younger Brother, and Peter Friedman as Tateh. Directed by Tony-Award winning Frank Galati and produced by theatre mogul Garth Drabinsky, the musical will also feature Jim Corti as Harry Houdini, Lynette Perry as Evelyn Nesbitt, Richard Allen as Booker T. Washington, Larry Daggett as Henry Ford, Camille Saviola as Emma Goldman and Vanessa Townsell-Crisp as Sarah's Friend, Paul Soles as Grandfather, Mike O'Carroll as J.P. Morgan, David Mucci as Willie Conklin, Paul Franklin Dano as Edgar, and Lea Michele as the Little Girl.
The Lynn Ahrens/ Stephen Flaherty/ Terrence McNally musical, based on E.L. Doctorow's panoramic novel, will play at the new $22.5 million Ford Performing Arts Center on 42nd Street in New York. Though a concept album recorded July 1996 has made the Ragtime score familiar to theatregoers, the NY cast will go into the studio in January 1998 to create an official Broadway cast CD. Tickets for the Broadway production are currently on sale by calling (212) 307-4100.