As a member of the pit orchestra, I may not have had a character to connect with or a journey as an actor; nevertheless, I believe that I have made a journey of my own as a musician. Before Ragtime, never had I ever performed in a musical, and as opening day approaches, never have I ever been so thankful and lucky that I had the chance to play along with the rest of the orchestra and company in this wonderful show. As company and pit orchestra mesh together during tech rehearsals, I’ve found that I can connect with the music better than ever. Before, I could only imagine the actors and actresses all dressed up in their respective costumes playing their parts, I now see they have become the characters they were meant to portray on stage. I can only strive to support the story they are sharing with the music I am playing – music that can hopefully carry the flood of emotion that I feel as the drama unfolds on stage – elation when Sarah and Coalhouse Walker reunite, anger when the firemen destroy Coalhouse’s car, or bitter helplessness when Sarah is struck down as she begs for the President’s help. This connection that I’ve made with this production’s music is one unlike I’ve ever had; the music I am playing may not necessarily be one of the most complex in technique, but definitely one of the most richest in feeling.
During this musical journey, I also found that I’ve come to really appreciate the genius of Ragtime’s musical arrangement, especially ever since the cast and orchestra came together during tech rehearsals. I love hearing the same beautiful themes recur during the musical, albeit in a variety of tones; for example, when the hopeful and optimistic theme in “Wheels of a Dream” comes back to bite us in the enraged “Coalhouse’s Soliloquy.” Finally, I am really astounded and pleased at how amazing the cast’s performance is! Even now, I shiver in excitement just thinking about how engaged each cast member is with his/her character and how amazed the audience will be, come opening day. Is it weird to be a little sad, to already be thinking about the eventual end of this magical experience, a day where I won’t wake up humming a Ragtime tune?