Broadway may be getting the new musical Ragtime in December 1997, but L.A. will get the show first -- albeit with a different company.
The Los Angeles Times reported that a second company of Ragtime will open at Century City's Shubert Theatre in June 1997.
Livent spokesperson Mary Bryant confirmed the story.
The Toronto program for Ragtime states: "Ragtime will open on Broadway in December '97 as the inaugural production at the Lyric-Apollo Theatre, currently being redesigned and refurbished by Livent Inc. The Lyric-Apollo is located in Times Square on 42nd. Street."
Ragtime opened Dec. 8 in Toronto, where local reviews were ecstatic; national coverage was generally positive. According to producer Garth Drabinsky (of Livent) The L.A. Ragtime, by Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty and Terrence McNally (based on the E.L. Doctorow historical novel), will cost nearly $10 million to mount -- as much as the Toronto production. Drabinsky told columnist Don Shirley that he's staying true to his word to produce more musicals in Los Angeles. "I have a great deal of respect for the Los Angeles market," he said, pointing to Sunset Boulevard and Evita as shows that built their American reputations by coming to California after London, rather than directly to New York. In its 20 weeks in Toronto, Livent's Show Boat will have grossed an estimated $18 million. Ragtime is scheduled for an open run in Los Angeles, though with tickets on sale for only the first 16 weeks. Bryant said the date LA tickets will go on sale is still to be announced. After the L.A. run, that production will go on tour.
Also in the L.A. Times story is the reason Drabinsky chose the Shubert instead of the Ahmanson: length of run. The Ahmanson's a subscription house and must accommodate a four-show season, whereas the Shubert can be more open-ended. California cast-members have not yet been announced.
For more information about Ragtime in Toronto, and its upcoming Broadway transfer, please see Playbill On-Line's numerous stories on the subject.