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Livent Inc.’s Ragtime, the musical adaptation of E. L. Doctorow’s classic novel, set to premiere at the Ford Centre for the Performing Arts, Metropolitan Toronto, on December 8, 1996

"Ragtime to be one of the richest, most dazzling and original works to emerge in the last two decades," says Livent Chairman and CEO Garth Drabinsky. "The novel’s theatrical possibilities are tremendously exciting. The story is not only compelling and vastly entertaining, but, like our current musical hit Show Boat, Ragtime’s human drama is set within a seismic time of upheaval in American history. Ragtime has something substantive to say about such topics as capitalism versus socialist ideology, industrialization, racism, and the assimilation of the immigrant into WASP America."

Winner of the first National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction and the Arts and Letters Award given by the American Academy and National Institute of Letters, Ragtime was first published by Random House in 1975, and became both an international best-seller and an instant classic. Since then, more than seven million copies have been sold around the world, and the novel has been translated into 30 foreign languages. Ragtime is currently taught in secondary schools, colleges and universities throughout Canada, the United States and Western Europe, as part of the curriculum for numerous Contemporary American Literature and American Studies programs.

A cavalcade of American cultural, political and economic evolution that extends from the beginning of the twentieth century to the advent of World War I, Ragtime unfolds in such varied turn-of-the century settings as Ellis Island, Broadway, Harlem, Penn Station, Atlantic City and Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Interwoven with such major historic events as Admiral Peary’ s expedition to the North Pole, the sinking of the Lusitania, the birth of American labour unions, the development of assembly line technology, and the dawn of the motion picture and automotive industries, Ragtime is populated with such legendary figures as Harry Houdini, Henry Ford, J. P. Morgan, Emma Goldman, Stanford White and Evelyn Nesbit. At the heart of Ragtime is, however, the story of three remarkable families—one upper-middle class, white Anglo-Saxon Protestant, one socialist immigrant Jewish, and one Harlem Black—whose lives the come dramatically intertwined with one another and with the historical characters and events of the period.

As described by director Frank Galati, Ragtime is "an enormously complicated historical, political, social and artistic panorama" that will enable audiences to examine "the origins of the twentieth century from the perspective of the last decade of the twentieth century." Adds Garth Drabinsky, "Ragtime’s commentary on the human condition is timeless. Though the story takes place during the century’s first two decades, its substance is as timely as ever today as we prepare to enter the next millennium."

About the Author

All I can say is that it’s like driving a car at night.
You can only see as far as your headlights extend,
but you can make the whole trip that way."
—E. L. Doctorow (1994)

Son of a music store owner and a pianist, Edgar Laurence Doctorow was born in New York City on January 6, 1931. Educated at Kenyon College and Columbia University, he worked as an editor at both the New American Library and Dial Press and as a script-reader for Columbia Pictures before publishing his first novel, Welcome to Hard Times, in l960. In addition to Ragtime (published in 1975) Mr Doctorow has written seven other novels, including Big As Life (1966), The Book of Daniel (1971), Loon Lake (1980), Lives of the Poets (1984), World’s Fair (1985), Billy Bathgate (1989), and The Waterworks (1994). In 1933, Mr Doctorow published his first non-fiction work, Jack London, Hemingway, and the Constitution, a collection of his essays written between 1977 and 1992.

Between books, Mr Doctorow wrote the play Drinks Before Dinner, which was produced by Joseph Papp and directed by Mike Nichols at the New York Shakespeare Festival Theatre in 1978. It has since been produced in England, Western Europe, and at regional theatres throughout the United States. Drinks Before Dinner has also been adapted, by Mr Doctorow, as a radio play for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).

Mr Doctorow is the recipient of the National Book Award, the Pen Faulkner Award, the Arts and Letters Award, a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, the William Dean Howells Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and two National Book Critics Circle Awards. Since 1982, he has served as Glucksman Professor of American and English Letters at New York University.

About the Ragtime Creative Team

Book: Terrence McNally

One of the theatre’s most acclaimed playwrights, Mr McNally’s long list of accomplishments includes winning the 1996 Tony Award for the smash hit Master Class, and the 1995 Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for Love! Velour! Compassion!. He is also the renowned author of A Perfect Ganesh, Lips Together, Teeth Apart, The Lisbon Traviata, The Ritz, and Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune. Mr McNally wrote the book for the musical production of The Rink, and won a 1993 Tony Award for his book for Livent’s musical production of Kiss of the Spider Woman. For the screen, Mr McNally adapted both The Ritz and Frankie and Johnny. In 1991, he was awarded an Emmy for Best Drama for his teleplay for Andre’s Mother.

Score: Stephen Flaherty (music) & Lynn Ahrens (lyrics)

Mr Flaherty and Ms Ahrens are perhaps best known for their vibrant and imaginative score for Once on This Island. The Broadway production of Once on This Island received eight 1991 Tony Award nominations and the recent London West End version won the prestigious 1995 Olivier Award for Best Musical. This talented pair have also collaborated on Lucky Stiff (Playwright Horizons’ 1988 season), and the 1992 musical adaptation of My Favorite Year, (Lincoln Center Theatre, 1992). Together, they contributed material to the best selling album Free To Be ... A Family, starring Marlo Thomas. In addition, Ms Ahrens collaborated with multiple Oscar-winning composer Alan Menken on the recent Broadway musicalization of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Ahrens and Flaherty are currently writing the score for Twentieth Century Fox’s first full-length animated feature film, Anastasia, starring the voices of Meg Ryan, John Cusack, Kelsey Grammer, Christopher Lloyd, Bernadette Peters and Angela Lansbury, which will be released in 1997.

Director: Frank Galati

A member of Chicago’s renowned Steppenwolf ensemble since 1987, Mr Galati was the recipient of two 1990 Tony Awards for his adaptation and direction of The Grapes of Wrath. Mr Galati’s other stage credits include You Can’t Take It With You, Aunt Dan and Lemon, Born Yesterday, The Glass Menagerie and various operas. His film credits include the screenplay (with Lawrence Kasdan) for The Accidental Tourist, which earned an Academy Award nomination.

Musical Staging: Graciela Daniele

Multi-talented choreographer-director Graciela Daniele ‘ s Broadway accomplishments include such diverse productions as Dangerous Games, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, The Pirates of Penzance, Zorba, Once on This Island, The Most Happy Fella, History of the American Film, and last season’s Tony and Drama Desk-nominated musical, Chronicle of a Death Foretold. With the New York Shakespeare Festival, her credits include The Knife, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Alice in Concert. At Intar, Ms Daniele co-adapted, choreographed and directed Tango Apasionado. Her list of film credits includes both of Woody Allen’s most recent releases, Bullets Over Broadway and Mighty Aphrodite. She is currently working on Mr Allen’s next film project, his first musical.

Set Design: Eugene Lee

For more than two decades, Mr Lee has served as Resident Designer for the Trinity Repertory Theatre in Providence, Rhode Island. A two-time Tony Award winner for his designs for director Harold Prince’s 1974 production of Candide and for the original Broadway production of Sweeney Todd (1979), Mr Lee also received both the 1995 Drama Desk and Outer Critics’ Circle Awards for his stunning contribution to Livent’s epic production of Show Boat. His other New York stage credits include Slaveship, Alice in Wonderland, Agnes of God and Uncle Vanya. For television, Mr Lee has served as production designer for Saturday Night Live and The Kids in the Hall.

Costume Designer: Santo Loquasto

A three-time Tony Award-winner for his exquisite designs for The Cherry Orchard, Cafe Crown and Grand Hotel, Mr Loquasto’s many stage credits include Sticks and Bones (Drama Desk Award), That Championship Season, American Buffalo (Drama Desk and Outer Critics’ Circle awards), Agamemnon, Three Sisters, and Lost In Yonkers. Mr Loquasto’s film credits include Desperately Seeking Susan, Big, and all of director Woody Allen’s last 13 films, from Stardust Memories through Mighty Aphrodite. In addition, Mr Loquasto designed the sets and costumes for the National Ballet of Canada’s new production of The Nutcracker, which debuted in December 1995. He is also currently designing the sets and costumes for the Livent-Stratford festival co-production of Barrymore, starring Christopher Plummer.

Lighting Design: Jules Fisher & Peggy Eisenhauer

Mr Fisher and Ms Eisenhauer are the 1996 Tony Award-winners for Bring in ’Da Noise, Bring in ’Da Funk. Additionally, Mr Fisher’s remarkable lighting designs have enhanced more than 150 Broadway and off-Broadway productions, garnering 15 Tony Award nominations and seven Tonys. His Tony Award-winning productions include Pippin, Ulysses in Nighttown, Dancin’, Grand Hotel, The Will Rogers Follies, Jelly’s Last Jam, and this season’s smash hit Bring in ’Da Noise, Bring in ’Da Funk. Mr Fisher’s other Broadway credits include Chicago, Jesus Christ Superstar, La Cage aux Folles, Angels in America and Victor/Victoria.

Orchestrations: William D. Brohn

Mr, Brohn has been awarded two New York Drama Desk Awards for his critically acclaimed orchestrations for Miss Saigon and The Secret Garden. He is currently the world’s most heard music theatre arranger—scores he has arranged are playing nightly around the globe in productions of Miss Saigon, The Secret Garden, Crazy for You, Livent’s Show Boat, and the current West End revival of Oliver! Among his ballet orchestrations are those for Agnes de Mille, Twyla Tharp and Lar Lubavitch and the American Ballet Theatre. Mr Brohn’s film work includes Endless Love and Blue Thunder and he has worked with recording artists such as James Galaway, Placido Domingo, Jerry Hadley, Marilyn Horne, John Raitt and Bonnie Raitt.

Musical Supervisor: Jeffrey Huard

Mr Huard is currently the music director for Livent Inc. He serves as me production musical supervisor for Show Boat, which he conducted in Toronto and on Broadway. He is also the musical supervisor for Kiss of the Spider Woman and served as conductor for its opening in Toronto, London and New York. Mr Hoard has conducted me Broadway production of The Phantom of the Opera and is presently the music supervisor for its Toronto and Canadian international touring productions. His recordings include the Canadian cast albums of The Phantom of the Opera and Sunset Boulevard, as well as me original cast albums of Kiss of me Spider Woman and Show Boat.

Dance Arrangements: David Krane

Mr Krane composed the dance and incidental music for Victor/Victoria, Big, Music of the Night and Kiss of the Spider Woman. He also conducted the Viennese premiere of Kiss, and produced and conducted the German language recording. He created orchestrations for She Loves Me, and dance music for Damn Yankees. His orchestrations for The World Goes ’Round were nominated for the drama Desk Award. He provided musical direction and design for the Tony-nominated revival of Sweeney Todd, arranged the music for The West Side Waltz, starring Katherine Hepburn, and has composed dance, incidental music and arrangements for many other shows.

About Livent Inc.

Livent Inc.’s musical stage productions, featuring many of the finest, internationally renowned creative talents working in contemporary theatre, have thrilled audiences across North America, in London’s West End, and throughout Southeast Asia. Listed in the USA on the NASDAQ National Market and in Canada on the Toronto Stock Exchange, Livent is the only publicly traded commercial live theatre production company.

Under the producing leadership of Garth Drabinsky, Livent has mounted several of the world’s most popular musical theatre productions, including the Toronto production of The Phantom of the Opera, which ranks as the longest-running and most successful musical in Canadian theatre history, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, starring Donny Osmond, Aspects of Love, The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber, Andrew Lloyd Webber - Music of the Night, Sunset Boulevard, starring Diahann Carroll and Rex Smith, the 1993 Tony Award-winning Kiss of the Spider Woman, starring Chita Rivera, and Show Boat, which was the most honoured production of the 1994-95 Broadway season, winning, among its numerous awards, five Tonys, including Best Musical Revival.

In addition to Ragtime, productions Livent currently has in development are a musical adaptation of the 1957 film noir classic, The Sweet Smell of Success, with a score by Cy Coleman, and the original musical I Love a Parade, to be directed by Harold Prince with a book by Alfred Uhry, award-winning author of Deriving Miss Daisy, and a score by the acclaimed young composer Jason Robert Brown. Livens has also acquired the rights to restore the Rodgers and Hart musical masterpiece Pal Joey. Fundamental to this restoration of Pal Joey will be both a new book by Terrence McNally and Livent’s acquisition of the rights to the entire Rodgers and Hart catalogue.

Livent will also mount a new production of Leonard Bernstein’s musical, Candide, to be directed by Harold Prince. This production is based on three earlier versions of the musical directed by Mr Prince, including his recent critically acclaimed production at Lyric Opera of Chicago. Candide, which will star Jim Dale, Andrea Martin, Harolyn Blackwell and Jason Danieley, will begin previews on Broadway April 9, 1997, at the Gershwin Theatre, where it will play a limited engagement before commencing a North American tour.

Livent’s success in the development, production and management of world-class musical stage productions has led to the company’s dramatic expansion during the past six years to include in-house costuming, casting and creative development departments and services.

Livent owns and operates Toronto’s historic Pantages Theatre, manages, programs and operates the three-theatre, 3000-seat Ford Centre for the Performing Arts in Metropolitan Toronto, and co-owns and operates the new Ford Centre for the Performing Arts in Vancouver. Through its wholly-owned subsidiary Livent (US) Inc., the company intends to refurbish and revitalize the legendary Oriental Theatre in Chicago, and to create a new 1850-seat, state-of-the-art facility for the presentation of live musical theatre productions in New York. The theatre will be created within the framework of the landmark Lyric and Apollo Theaters, located between 42nd and 43rd streets off Times Square. Plans are also under way for the construction of a new 1400-seat theatre in downtown Toronto, adjacent to the Pantages Theatre.

Disclaimer: Nothing here is "official." Everything is a composite of media releases, information supplied by or procured from the theatres by direct or devious means, or downright personal opinion. If you don't like what you see, blame us, not the fine folks in the theatres of Southwestern Ontario.


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Send us your reviews or stories about theatre in SWOntario, and we'll see they get posted.

Speaking of which, here's what You are saying:

Hi! I saw Ragtime for the first time last night. I ADORED it!!! It is now one of my favourite musicals, tied with The Phantom of the Opera.
I bought a souvenir program and love the pictures in it. Is there anyway that you can set up a picture gallery so that the pictures can be printed off? Being such a new musical, only being performed in Toronto, there are few people who know about it, therefore even fewer homepages. I would love to be able to print off some of the pictures and put them
in my locker at school.
Also, I would like to comment on the cast. WOW!!! I owned the recording before I saw the musical, and didn't think that the cast could possibly be as good live as they were on the recording. Was I ever wrong! Audra McDonald has been added to my select few of favourite singers (no easy feat, I assure you). The whole cast was incredible. I am hoping to see the performance again before it leaves for Broadway.

Hello! I just wanted to say that I love Ragtime ! Ive seen it twice and want to see it again (but don't think I will) . I love Brian Stokes Mitchell, even though he was'nt there the second time I went,because he was openind L.A & NY . I also love Audra Mcdonald!!!I love Ragtime!!!!!
Betty D.

Saw Ragtime Saturday at the Ford. It was the best. Congratulations.
William F.

I saw the show on Thursday night in L.A. and loved it!. Is the only Ragtime Home Page? I am interested in ordering Ragtime merchandise...particularly a window card poster. They did not have it at the theater. Any suggestions? Thank you for a wonderful show! Robert


Saw Ragtime in Toronto in June and fell in love with it so much, I went out and read the book. I'm looking forward to cheering for all of the Tony awards the show will recieve in 1998. Livent has a real hit on their hands!!!!!!

Sharon di C.

  I think that the play Ragtime is SO great! I am 10 years old, and am currently in it at Maine State Music Theatre. I am playing the role of the little girl. I think that the musical's score is EXCELLENT! It is a really special story about three extraordinary dreamers, and I would recommend it to anybody! Haley Bennet

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Disclaimer: Nothing here is "official." Everything is a composite of media releases, information supplied by or procured from the theatres, and personal opinion. Stage Door assumes no responsibility for the accuracy of this information, or for subsequent use or inconvenience experienced as a consequence of this information. Use of this Website constitutes your understanding of this Disclaimer.

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