Ragtime Extends West End Season Three MonthsDate: 26 March 2003
Award-winning Broadway musical Ragtime, which received strong reviews for its London premiere last week, has announced a three-month extension to its West End season (See News, 29 Jan 2003). The musical - starring Dave Willetts, Maria Friedman, Graham Bickley and American Kevyn Morrow - opened at the Piccadilly Theatre on 19 March 2003 (previews from 8 March) and had been booking to 11 June 2003. It is now taking bookings up to 6 September 2003.
Based on EL Doctorow's epic 1975 novel, Ragtime traces the cultural and political sea-changes in America at the turn of 20th century. In a portrait of three very different American families, fictional lives become dramatically intertwined with one another as well as with factual characters and events including Henry Ford, Harry Houdini and the sinking of the Lusitania.
In 1981, Milos Forman brought the story to the big screen, with a cast that included James Cagney, Norman Mailer and Elizabeth McGovern. The musical adaptation - with a book by Terrence McNally, music by Stephen Flaherty and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens - premiered in January 1998 on Broadway where it won four Tony Awards and ran for two years. In the stage show, Doctorow's story is played out against a range of American musical styles - from the catchy, rag-inspired opening through cakewalk, waltz and march.
Ragtime was originally scheduled to open in the West End back in March 1999 at the Prince Edward Theatre (now home to Abba mega-hit Mamma Mia!), but those transfer plans fell through (See News, 3 Jul 1998). Somewhat belatedly, the show had its European premiere, with much of the same 30-strong London company, on 26 October 2002 in the concert version at Cardiff's St David's Hall as part of the inaugural International Festival of Musical Theatre.
The West End production of Ragtime is directed by Stafford Arima and designed by Robert Jones, with lighting by Howard Harrison, sound by Peter Hylenski and musical orchestrations by William David Brohn.
- by Terri Paddock