The Pace Theatrical Group's national tour of Ragtime will indeed "journey on" to Boston's Colonial Theatre, it was announced Dec. 8, delivering the Broadway smash to Bean Town for previously announced dates, Jan. 20-March 28, 1999.
The contracts with cast members had been signed as early as Nov. 19, but court and business issues concerning Pace's takeover of the show from its bankrupt original producer, Livent, Inc., had made the confirmation unsure until now. The Boston date is subject to a bankruptcy court ruling, but a Pace spokesperson is "optimistic."
Livent announced Nov. 17 it would close the tour in Minneapolis Nov. 21, but Pace stepped in within 48 hours and offered to take over the show to honor its immediate dates in Seattle (Paramount Theatre, Dec. 2-Jan. 3, 1999) and Boston. Tickets continued to sell in both markets during its unsure transition. Pace books both venues, as well as 36 other markets in the U.S.
Ragtime has already sold several million dollars' worth of tickets in Boston, traditionally one of the most enthusiastic towns for touring Broadway fare. The musical is based on the novel by E.L. Doctorow and charts the lives of fictional and real characters in America circa 1905-17. Set in and around New York, the musical travels to "Boston and environs" in one scene, where millworkers strike in Lawrence, MA.
The 55-member cast of the musical will be mostly intact for the Boston stand. Continuing will be Michael Rupert as Tateh, Rebecca Eichenberger as Mother, Darlesia Cearcy as Sarah and Cris Groenendaal as Father. The tour's Alton Fitzgerald White joins the Broadway company as Coalhouse Walker Jr. in late December. His tour replacement has not been announced. It is unclear what the future of the tour is after March 28, but insiders speculate that if details with unions and other markets can be worked out (and if Pace finds it lucrative), the tour will be scaled down (smaller cast and perhaps a more mover-friendly physical production) and restarted in spring.
For information about the Boston run at the Colonial Theatre, call (617) 931-ARTS.
Although highly anticipated by theatregoers, the national tour of the Tony Award-winning (Best Score and Orchestrations) Broadway musical was nevertheless shut down unexpectedly Nov. 21 in Minneapolis as producer Livent filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy papers. The holidays looked bleak for the 55-member cast and dozens of crew, tech and related personnel, who were shocked by the Nov. 17 closing posting.
Following a week's hiatus in which three cast members chose not to return, the show opened in Seattle Dec. 3 following a preview and a matinee performance. Seattle is a go for the entire run. Sales exceed $1.75 million there, according to a Pace source.
Georgiana Young of Pace told Playbill On-Line she could not speculate about other announced bookings, such as the Orpheum Theatre in San Fran spring.
Young said Pace intends to get the tour to Boston's Colonial Theatre for the Jan. 20, 1999 first performance. "Let's get the show to Boston and then let's see where we go from there," said Young.
Young, Pace vice president of business development and corporate communications, earlier 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."
Millions of dollars are at stake, and so are hundreds of jobs for actors, musicians, technical crew people and others. A conservative Young said box office sales in both Boston and Seattle have been "brisk" and "strong."
Alan Eisenberg, president of Actors' Equity Association, told Playbill On- Line Nov. 24 he was "shocked" when he heard about the Ragtime shut-down and sent an Equity representative to Minneapolis to be with the cast and crew last week. He confirmed that Equity is working with Pace to preserve jobs. "It was a huge concern to us," Eisenberg said. "It's all about jobs and opportunities. We believe it's going to happen."
Eisenberg said the Pace contract would simply be a "lift" of the details of the Livent contract for the cast and company. Most of the original cast is expected to return, although insiders said a couple of performers may exercise the option to leave the company.
Eisenberg was not available Dec. 2 to comment about the tour losing three actors, and whether they would be replaced.