Ragtime, the newest musical on stage at ZACH Theatre, took me to a period in America’s history I could only dream of. A time when our nation was being transformed with a rush of immigrants and all they brought along – their anthems, differences, and dreams of building an amazing life in their new country… America! *STOP*
Alright, I’ll be the first to admit I was hesitant about this musical. To me, it seemed to be an outdated play with a bunch of white people dancing around in old fashioned outfits. To an extent, I was correct. My goal when writing a new article is to always share an experience that is unique – an experience as unique as Austin itself. When I tell someone they need to try something, my hope is they come back and tell me I was absolutely correct. I attended the Wilde Party at ZACH’s new Topfer Theatre and checked out the inaugural performance of Ragtime. Boy was I wrong! *START*
There are only two words that can describe the experience I had at Ragtime…Blown Away! Not only by the new theatre, the acoustics and stage design, but by the 42+ person cast that took me back four generations to a period we’ve seem to have forgotten. My ancestors came to America from Europe! These are the exact same struggles and discrimination they experienced when building their new lives! Now, my friend is the prop designer for ZACH Theatre and I highly regard his opinion on theatre. The main reason I pushed myself to see this show is because he told me I would regret not going to see Ragtime. There’s not many performances I would see twice and I am already thinking about going back to see this musical again…mainly because I can’t get the music out of my head! But as long ago as the late 1890’s seems, this performance couldn’t be more relevant showing how every generation has a struggle and it’s important to speak up for what you believe in. Because in the end, we all want the same thing for ourselves and our families – love, support, and acceptance.
Ragtime is a musical based at the turn of the century in New York City that depicts the struggles early americans, african americas, and european americans faced while living in the same city and trying to stake their claim in the American dream. While walking on eggshells around each other, they manage to make their way and finally realize they all want the same thing out of life. In the opening song, the Anglo Americans, European Americans, and African Americans all dance around each portraying their perceived struggles, but showing they all lived parallel lives. This show is sure to take every person who sees it back to this period and will emotionally leave them with hope that no matter how divided our country is, we will always prevail and become a better and stronger nation.
Photo Credit: The Visual Science Lab/Kirk Tuck