By MICHELLE JACOBY
“A must-see” is how we describe shows or films we must see. “Ragtime, The Musical,” now playing now at the Westchester Broadway Theatre definitely falls into this category.
The Standing Ovation Studios of Armonk graces the stage as Westchester’s largest production with a cast of 40 New York City, national and local talent.
Based on the novel by E.L. Doctorow, this sweeping musical portrait of early 20th century America tells the story of three seemingly unconnected families who wind their way through upper-middle class New Rochelle to Harlem and Tin Pan Alley to the immigrant melting pot of the lower east side.
This large production comes alive with set designs including a working Model-T automobile, time-period costumes and historical figures that shaped our future: Antoine L. Smith as Booker T. Washington, Steven Stein-Grainger as J.P. Morgan, Todd Alan Little as Henry Ford and amazing acrobatic performances by both Joey Barreiro as Houdini and Cali LaSpina as Evelyn Nesbit, the Weeee girl.
The talent, big voices and emotional heart-wrenching sc-enes were felt by every audience member.
Victoria Lauzun as the subtle, yet strong, mother shows her strength with several numbers such as “Goodbye, My Love,” “What Kind of Woman” and “Our Children” with Baron Ashkenazy played brilliantly by Joey Sanzaro.
The show features two local favorites who have blessed the stage before; Todd Ritch as the younger brother and Fatye as Coalhouse Walker, Jr. These two powerhouses are dynamic together. Ritch is young, energetic and passionate in any role he takes on. Fatye is comfortable on stage and very versatile, showing his range of emotions without missing a beat. Fatye is fun-loving with “Getting’ Ready to Rag,” inspiring with “The Wheels of a Dream,” angry with “Justice” and emotionally depleted with “Coalhouse’s Soliloquy.”
Coalhouse Walker, Jr. is in love with Sarah, played beautifully by Brittney Johnson.
This evening, the young actors who graced the stage are Grant Albright as the little boy and Ellie Leibner as the little girl. Jeremy Michael Lanuti, Chase O’Brien, Julia Grace Gold and Molly Perrine are among those who will share the spotlight.
This Standing Ovation Studio production of “Ragtime, The Musical” is an amazing collaboration of great story-telling, singing, dancing, set design, costumes, music and a little bit of a history.
Directed by John Fanelli and produced by John and Nannette Fanelli; Sheldon and Mennie Mallah, executive producers; book by Terrence McNally; music by Stephen Flaherty; lyrics by Lynn Ahrens; set design by Steve Loftus; costume design by Gail Baldoni and choreographed by Greg Graham.
This dramatic show is playing now through May 4 at the Westchester Broadway Theatre in Elmsford. For more information about “Ragtime,” visit RagtimeWestchester.com or call 914-592-2222.