The world premiere production of Ragtime in Toronto has announced that it will close August 31, 1997 in preparation for a wholesale move to Broadway, where it's scheduled to begin previews in December.
Produced by Livent Inc,the show is scheduled to open Jan. 18 as the inaugural presentation at the new Ford Centre for the Performing Arts, formerly the Lyric and Apollo theatres on West 42nd Street in New York.
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 from the 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 Toronto production runs to Aug. 31, then takes a hiatus and starts previews on Broadway Dec. 26. 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. Those interested in the show and its journey to New York might want to check out a new newsletter, "The Ragtime News," published by Kimberly Bieksza. Published four times a year beginning in July, "The Ragtime News," offers stories on the making of the show, as well as readers' reviews and comments on various productions of Ragtime. Proceeds from the $8 subscription price go to offset the cost of "supplies and postage;" whatever is left over will be donated to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. For information write to 703 Powell Lane, Lewiston, NY 14092-1157 or e-mail Ragtime216@aol.com