re: Ragtime 25th Anniversary Reunion Concert
Posted by: Chazwaza 05:26 pm EDT 03/28/23
In reply to: re: Ragtime 25th Anniversary Reunion Concert - mikem 04:08 pm EDT 03/28/23

I just want to say that I think it's really important to remember and know in context (and something that seems to be actively forgotten and revised in the narrative of racial politics and experience in America) that Jewish immigrants were not seen as or treated as "white" then... so to categorize Tateh as one of the "white" characters, the way that classification is used today, is not really accurate. Especially because the show/book are not trying to tell 2/3rds white stories and 1/3 black -- the white experience of WASPs was meant to be entirely separate from the experience of white-skinned Jewish and eastern European immigrants just off the boat, because it was. Seeing them as white, like the way the New Rochelle family is white, means one comes into the musical with an already off-balanced context for the show and the 3 stories/groups it chooses to focus on. I know that's unavoidable for a lot of audiences today, but I do think it's important to say and a better show when it's not viewed as 2/3rds white.

I also have to disagree a bit about what is interesting to watch. I find the emotionally repressed characters who are on a journey to becoming less repressed and more open, who have explosive and revelatory experiences with becoming emotionally or newly able to engage with their emotions, to be very interesting and satisfying. You may not find it to be, but it isn't dramatugrical fact that it's not balanced because of this.

The baseball number is in the show, I think, because it helps paint the world they are in, the time, the culture, it's representative of America at the time as seen through *the* favorite pastime (at least then), and it is a comedy number which I am sure the creators felt the show needed after such a dramatic and emotionally raw end of act one. But given the way the original production was staged and designed, I don't think anything was written and kept that was covering a set change or anything like that. Whether or not the number works anymore where it is is a valid question, but I don't remember, in the 2 times I saw the original, thinking it was a problem. The show was so epic in scale of production and story and cast, it felt like part of the tapestry of the story, and helped balance the show a bit. Unfortunately Act 2 is the weaker act, musically, with that as a bit of a throw-away number, the competent but not impressive "Buffalo Nickel Photoplay Inc", and the lovely but also baldly saccharine "Our Children" ... all good songs achieving what they need to, but a bit of a drop from the non-stop greatness of act one's song list.

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Next: re: Ragtime 25th Anniversary Reunion Concert - showtunetrivia 06:12 pm EDT 03/28/23

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