In what was surely the production company’s best musical to date Ragtime (book by Terrence McNally, music by Stephen Flaherty and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens) held at the State Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne was a total hit. With lavish costumes and heartfelt, jazzy songs brought to life by an extremely versatile, powerful and talented cast. Audience’s well and truly had their socks knocked right off. I know for myself I laughed, cried and felt every note and lyric so very deeply.

Set at the start of the 20th century New York, Ragtime tells the story of three different ethnic groups African Americans, White upper-class suburbanites from New Rochelle and Jewish European immigrants.

And everything was ragtime!

Listen to the ragtime!

It’s always such a joy to see people who I know shine/do their thing up on stage. Let alone several in one show. So you can imagine how thrilled I was for them and that it makes it so hard to choose a stand out performance not to mention everyone was just sublime and left me speechless so please allow me to highlight a few.

Kurt Kansley’s portrayal of Coalhouse Walker JR was seamless adding, in my opinion, a touch of ScottĀ Joplin to his character and of course his own natural charm as well. Kurt’s vocals were rich, smooth and full and his passion infectious. Georgina Hopson was the mother and captured the emotional journey/difficulty her character endured with grace, sensitivity, and warmth. And her beautiful soprano voice truly took flight in Back to before. Alexander Lewis triumphed as Tateh a struggling immigrant who only wants the best for his daughter and dreams of a better life for both of them in America. I was captivated by his tenderness, heart and the way he effortlessly brought magic to the role. The lovely Chloe Zuel was Sarah – girlfriend of Coalhouse and let me just say what a talent Chloe is to behold I legit felt every heartbreak and pain her character went through and talk about goosebumps, tears and being able to hear a pin drop in the room when she wowed audiences with Your daddy’s son… truly exceptional and heart wrenching. And lastly, I want to commend the ensemble who were hands down powerful, electric and added depth to this production.

When all being said and done Ragtime leaves one saying that’s why I love musical theatre.

x Steph

Photos by: Jeff Busby

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