They Love a Piano: Tin Pan Alley Rag, Featuring Berlin & Joplin, Opens in NYC July 14

News   They Love a Piano: Tin Pan Alley Rag, Featuring Berlin & Joplin, Opens in NYC July 14
 
The music that had America tapping its feet 80 years ago echoes anew with the July 14 opening of The Tin Pan Alley Rag, Mark Saltzman's musical play about an imagined meeting between music men Irving Berlin and Scott Joplin.
Tin Pan Alley Rag stars Michael Therriault and Mark Ledbetter
Tin Pan Alley Rag stars Michael Therriault and Mark Ledbetter Photo by Joan Marcus

Michael Therriault and Michael Boatman are Berlin and Joplin, respectively, in the New York City premiere of the play that's been seen regionally. The show's songs are by composer-lyricist Berlin and composer Joplin, contemporaries who never met in real life, as far as anyone can tell.

The Off-Broadway production by Roundabout Theatre Company marks the first time a musical is produced at Roundabout's Laura Pels Theatre at the Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre (recently home to Distracted). Previews began June 12. Performances for the limited run of Tin Pan Alley Rag play to Sept. 6.

Stafford Arima (Altar Boyz, London's Ragtime) directs a cast that also includes Randy Aaron (Cry-Baby), Derrick Cobey (tours of Rent and Forever Swing), Jenny Fellner (Roundabout's Pal Joey), Rosena M. Hill (The Color Purple), James Judy (The Scarlet Pimpernel, Into the Woods), Mark Ledbetter (White Christmas around the country), Michael McCormick (Roundabout's The Pajama Game), Erick Pinnick (Sunset Blvd.), Tia Speros (The Taffetas) and Idara Victor (Lincoln Center Theater's Happiness).

According to Roundabout, "The Tin Pan Alley Rag tells the story of an imagined meeting of two of America's greatest musicians, composer Scott Joplin (Boatman) and songwriter Irving Berlin (Therriault). Joplin was a musical prodigy, born the son of a slave, who received a conservatory education and slowly rose to acclaim. Berlin was a Russian Jewish immigrant who couldn't read music, yet catapulted to stardom at the age of 23. Both men changed the landscape of music forever with their contributions to the first American musical genre, ragtime. Beneath Joplin and Berlin's toe-tapping, syncopated rhythms lay fascinating stories of fame, love and loss. In The Tin Pan Alley Rag, these tales come to vivid life and two great icons realize they have more in common than they ever suspected."

The score includes such classic songs as Irving Berlin's "I Love a Piano," "Play a Simple Melody," "Alexander's Ragtime Band" and Scott Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag" and "The Entertainer," among others. *

Dora Award winner Therriault was Leo Bloom in Toronto's The Producers, and appeared as Gollum in Lord of the Rings there. Boatman is known for TV's "Spin City" and Roundabout's Master Harold…and the boys.

The Tin Pan Alley Rag will feature choreography by Liza Gennaro and musical direction by Michael Patrick Walker. The design team includes Beowulf Boritt (sets), Jess Goldstein (costumes), Howell Binkley (lights) and Walter Trarbach (sound).

The Roundabout Theatre Company production is presented in association with Rodger Hess Productions, Inc. The Tin Pan Alley Rag was most recently seen in January 2006 at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre in Jupiter, FL.

Arima directed Altar Boyz, which received the Best Off-Broadway Musical Outer Critics Circle Award, was nominated for a Drama Desk Award as Outstanding Musical and is currently running its fifth year Off-Broadway. He directed the West End premiere of a reconceived production of Ragtime, which was recognized with eight Olivier Award nominations including Best Director and Best New Musical. Additional credits include The Princess and the Black-Eyed Pea (San Diego Rep.); Candide (San Francisco Symphony); The Secret Garden (World AIDS Day concert); Marry Me a Little (Cincinnati Playhouse); Ace (The Old Globe); and Bowfire (world tour/PBS television special), among others.

Laura Pels Theatre is located at 111 West 46th Street. Ticket prices range from $75-$85.

The Tin Pan Alley Rag will play Tuesday through Saturday evening at 7:30 PM with Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2 PM.

For more information, visit www.roundabouttheatre.org.

Randy Aaron, Idara Victor, Derrick Cobey, Rosena M. Hill, Erick Pinnick, Mark Ledbetter, James Judy, Michael Therriault and Michael Boatman
Randy Aaron, Idara Victor, Derrick Cobey, Rosena M. Hill, Erick Pinnick, Mark Ledbetter, James Judy, Michael Therriault and Michael Boatman
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