I had become very de-sensitized to the emotional tour de force that is Ragtime by the time opening night rolled around. I was watching the show for technical smoothness, vocal power, and acting technique, and not experiencing any of the emotional release that makes theater so special. Fortunately, gaining an audience helped me again see Ragtime as it should be seen. As I watched people cry, gasp, and look away from the stage during violent moments, the significant of our work took on new meaning for me.
Given the nature of my goals and the way in which I have worked on Ragtime, the project became about achieving size, technical proficiency, and brand awareness. As I spoke to University deans, Broadway professionals, and fellow students about their experience watching Ragtime, I was reminded that my project was actually about making people feel something, experience emotion, think about America’s past in a different way. While I can take credit for some posters and the overall idea, none of this is the result of my work, rather, it is the product of my team’s countless hours of hard work and training. It is powerful dramatic arc of Doctorow, the brilliant adaptation of McNally, and most importantly the transcendent performances of my best friends on stage.
The Saturday afternoon performance on April 14th was important to me on a personal level as my entire family and many of my professional mentors were there, and you guys nailed it. I still had to watch the show with my producer’s glasses… did you hit the notes, was the sound well balanced, was the pacing good, etc. Unfortunately, I’m unable to take those off at this point. However, I experienced the show in a new way like never before. You took Jeff’s acting coaching and made the drama your own, you became your characters like never before and that made me experience your performances like never I had never seen them before. Coalhouse’s death, no matter how expected, again became hard to watch and accept. My face contorted as I identified with Tateh’s frustration after being called “you people”, and Mother’s “Back to Before” took my breath away, even after four years of watching Allie sing. I was proud because grown men who have seen literally thousands of musicals, including this one many times before, were moved by your work. And that is the beauty of live theater.