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Ragtime Musical: Fighting for the American Dream

February 24, 2020

On the road with TCP Magazine, led to the production of “Ragtime” at the Stewart Theatre on North Carolina State University campus in the Talley Student Union building. It was presented by the University Theatre  from the book by Terrence McNally, Music by Stephen Flaherty, and Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens. I was on the edge of my seat, singing the songs, knew what to expect in each scene, and was mentally immersed in this show! After personally performing in Ragtime 3 years ago, and fell in love with this production, there’s no better place I rather be! The scene takes place In the early 1900’s, the immigrants came to America for a better life, and yet the African Americans who were here, struggled for freedom and acceptance, but dealt with racism and discrimination.

Ragtime music is a syncopated, off beat rhythm that evolved from African Americans played on the piano. This music was played during the late 1800’s to early 1900’s. It was played at the beginning and the epilogue with “Wheels of a Dream.” Nicole Hiemenz (Mother), Tim Eldred (Father), Byron Jennings, II (Coalhouse Walker Jr.), Isaiah Lewis (Tateh) along with the cast, and crew of students and staff that performed, displayed professionalism at its best. The songs, the orchestra, dancing, and the young ladies using their parasols to emulate a car driven by Coalhouse, exhibited an energetic performance. Mother embraced Aysia Slade (Sarah) and cared for her and the child born from Coalhouse.  Tateh like any other immigrant wanted a better life for himself and his daughter. It’s the America dream! I sat next to the grandson of the young man that played Houdini, (Grayson Fulp) a freshman who had to shave his beard and make sure he kept his hair long. He shared that Grayson was honored to be a part of this production.

Even though the production depicted the times then, let’s fast forward to 2020. What is the American dream? Tateh made his dreams come true! He made a better life making movies, and married Mother. However, Coalhouse started a rampage of killings because of racism, discrimination, and no justice. But he was killed because he took justice into his own hands. Coalhouse wanted a better way of life too! He wanted the American dream! His song, “Make them Hear you” (how justice was denied). What happens to a dream deferred?”….

The Cast
Sarah & Coalhouse

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