Ruth Leon recommends…. Wheels of a Dream – Ragtime

Ruth Leon recommends…. Wheels of a Dream – Ragtime

Ruth Leon recommends

norman lebrecht

May 15, 2022

Wheels of a Dream – Ragtime

Click here to watch

As many of you know, I often write about musicals and when I’m asked for my favourite, a question I hate because there are so many, I don’t reach for Rodgers and Hart or Rodgers and Hammerstein or Stephen Sondheim or Lin-Manuel Miranda, the image that pops up is that of Ahren’s and Flaherty’s magnificent  Ragtime. Almost nothing since has come up to the standard of that splendid adaptation of E L Doctorow’s  novel which had the massive ambition of telling the story of the divisions in American society at the beginning of the last century and succeeding brilliantly.

Much of my love for that show had to do with its extraordinary first cast. Without slighting the late, great Marin Mazzie who played Mother in the original (no other name, just Mother), the two standout performances came from Audra Macdonald and Brian Stokes Mitchell who were, and are still,   reigning titans of the American musical theatre. Here’s how they sounded then, in 1996, at the show’s premiere, in Ragtime’s most lyrical song. They sound just as good today.

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  • IntBaritone says:

    Such incredibly powerful singing and acting from two of the best.

    Brings me goosebumps every time – I remember seeing it in the theaters.

  • NotToneDeaf says:

    While I know you’re not trying to slight Marin Mazzie, you would do well to give her “equal billing” by posting her incredible rendition of “Back to Before” which stopped the show every night. Along with Audra, she had one of the most distinctive singing voices in contemporary music theatre. Her untimely death was such a sad loss to the theatre world.

  • Nick2 says:

    I must be one of the few here on SD to have seen the 1990s Broadway production. It was certainly a glorious evening. It was produced by the then most adventurous producer of large scale musicals, Garth Drabinsky of Canada’s Livent company. He also produced the lavish production of Showboat I saw which was equally impressive.

    But Livent had been massively overspending and Drabinsky had been doing some underhand accounting. Livent went bust before the end of the decade and Drabinsky served a 5-year jail sentence.