Home > Theatre > Ragtime|
Home > Television & Video > Ragtime
Home > Concerts > Ragtime
Musical with music by Stephen Flaherty, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and book by Terrence McNally based on the novel by E.L.Doctorow.
This was the musical's European Premiere. The concert version was staged as part of the first International Festival of Musical Theatre which was held in Cardiff (Wales, UK) from 13 October to 3 November 2002. This concert version was subsequently broadcast on television.
E.L.Doctorow's novel Ragtime comes to vibrant life in this musical portrait of three very different American families - an African-American family, a Jewish immigrant family, and a wealthy suburban WASP family. In a cavalcade of life at the turn of the century, their fictional lives become dramatically intertwined with one another as well as with factual characters and events including Henry Ford, Harry Houdini and the sinking of the Lusitania.
Doing it for themselves: Sonia and Maria Friedman insist there's no sibling rivalry, just combined talent, on Ragtime... though big sister can be a little bossy - read the full interview from The Independent (6 March 2003)
Maria on Ragtime The Concert rehearsals:
"We got into the grotty rehearsal room in Lambeth, and there were so many flies I thought there was a dead body decomposing in the corner. There was also a wasps' nest. And I had my six-week-old baby with me. And I was doing the performance for no money. I would have walked out after ten minutes if the music hadn't been so fantastic." [read full interview]
Production Team: Concert
Production Team: Theatre
Maria won the 2004 Olivier Award for 'Best Actress in a Musical' for her role in Ragtime.
Click on the appropriate computer screen (monitor) resolution size - this opens the graphic in a new browser window. Once the large image is displayed, right click your mouse and select 'Set as Background' or 'Set as Wallpaper'. That's about it. You may need to adjust your Windows Desktop settings: Right-click the desktop image and select Properties (or select Display from the Control Panel options). In the Wallpaper box, make sure that the Center or Stretch option is selected (instead of Tile).
Reviews from the Press (Theatre)
"It may not be the ideal time to launch a musical about the limitless possibilities of America. But there is enough dark as well as light in this highly intelligent adaptation of EL Doctorow's famous novel to make it more than an exercise in uplift; and even if Stafford Arima's production is, I presume, much simpler than the 1998 Broadway original it still packs considerable punch.... Maria Friedman makes the mother a figure of instinctive charity and sings with her familiar passionate sincerity. Kevyn Morrow lends Coalhouse an escalating rage against injustice. But the real pleasure lies in encountering a score that is not just a succession of songs but that expresses the show's ultimate purpose: to convey the state of America at a moment of crucial historical transition." Michael Billington, The Guardian (20 March 2003) read full review
"For three fabulous hours last night I escaped into the wonder that is Ragtime. Stephen Flaherty's spellbinding adaptation of Terrence McNally's epic novel blew me away.I cried, I laughed, I wished it would never end... Maria Friedman delivers the performance of a superstar... If you like musicals - in fact if you like any kind of theatre - miss Ragtime at your peril." Kevin O'Sullivan, The Mirror (20 March 2003) read full review
"A dance to the music of ragtime (4 out of 5 stars): Maria Friedman's Mother, the voice of white decency and all-American hope, has enough simple passion and sweetness to cope with Flaherty's more soaring odes - and Flaherty has the skill to obey the show's title and combine syncopation with melody. Is the musical too American for London? That's what I had feared. Last night a brisk, pacey, tuneful and touching premiere provided a clear answer: no." Benedict Nightingale, The Times (20 March 2003) read full review
"Occasionally a musical never quite lives up to its opening number. With Ragtime, an immensely well-manufactured musical of the late 1990s, you fear that the opening will be a very hard act to follow. But follow it you must, and you will be rewarded... The score covers lyrical waltz, sentimental ballads and blues, but is dominated by Scott Joplin-style rag. And this intelligent, decent and graceful new musical deserves a good hearing." Michael Coveney, The Daily Mail (20 March 2003)
"The two lead roles, that of Coalhouse Walker and Mother are played and sung with glorious ardour by Kevyn Morrow and Maria Friedman. Morrow's obsessed seeker after justice and lost love has all the wired calm of the fanatic. And Miss Friedman, although sometimes conveying the frosty hauteur of a juvenile Lady Bracknell, sings with a rich, sinuous virtuosity. The two of them set the stage alive with a passion and urgency." Nicholas de Jongh, The London Evening Standard (20 March 2003)
"The book is by the playwright Terrence McNally, the lyrics by Lynn Ahrens. They have propulsion, subtlety, seriousness, grace. I admire, too, the extreme economy of Stafford Arima's staging. The tenderness of Maria Friedman's singing, the dark urgency of Graham Bickley's entire performance: these lead an impressive company." Alastair Macaulay, The Financial Times (21 March 2003)
"This is a show blessed with real heart, great songs and superb performances. Ragtime may be hard work at times, but it richly repays the effort... Maria Friedman is deeply affecting as the loving mother, embracing other races, the lost and the lonely, with a compassion that never seems sentimental, and delivering her big numbers with thrilling power and passion... This is a show that leaves its audience genuinely stirred." Charles Spencer, The Daily Telegraph (21 March 2003) read full review
"Ragtime is a wide-lens inter-racial American musical about three diverse families at the start of the 20th century. A satisfying score of ragtime rhythms by Stephen Flaherty and with Maria Friedman (as a saintly mother figure) in fine voice, it's dead impressive, if rather unmoving, in its epic sweep." Robert Gore-Langton, The Express (21 March 2003)
"Maria Friedman is in full, strong voice." Susannah Clapp, The Observer (23 March 2003) read full review
"The splendid, pared-down staging - a high steel bridge with the orchestra behind it, no props but for a few chairs functioning as make-believe cars, and a line of blurry, back-lit mirrors - forces the focus on to the characters and the music. Maria Friedman is outstanding, a madonna of strength and gentleness, while Kevyn Morrow is a passionate Coalhouse, whose energy and creativity are twisted into violence and destruction... Stafford Arima's pacey production powerfully captures the highly combustible atmosphere of the time; a spirit of hope, despair and disillusion. Potent stuff." Georgina Brown, The Mail On Sunday (23 March 2003)
"On Broadway, it was thrillingly staged on a massive set but, in this far more intimate version (based on a concert setting seen in Cardiff last November), the emphasis is instead on the words, music and performers. Though it amplifies some of the earnestness and self-consciousness of the storytelling, it's also good not to have any distractions from Stephen Flaherty's gorgeous melodies that simply wrap themselves around the theatre, or lyrics by Lynn Ahrens that are sung to the rafters by one of the best ensembles in the West End." Mark Shenton, The Sunday Express (23 March 2003)
The concert version at St David's Hall was filmed and broadcast on BBC Four television on Sunday 27 October 2002, repeated Friday 20 December 2002. The television version had an introduction by the actor Clive Rowe.
All content on About Maria is archived here without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in reviewing the included information for personal use, non-profit research and educational purposes only. This is an unofficial webpage. Contact.