Ragtime Concert at Avery Fisher Hall Gleams With Broadway Stars and Musical Riches

By Adam Hetrick
19 Feb 2013

The evening's delights continued with Manoel Felciano as the immigrant Tateh, offering a tender rendition of "Gliding" and a joyously embodied performance of the tongue-twister "Buffalo Nickel Photoplay, Inc." Annie star Lilla Crawford also gave an emotional performance as The Little Girl.

Tony and Olivier Award nominee Patina Miller, who had the unenviable task of taking on the role of Sarah (originally written for Tony winner Audra McDonald), carved a path of her own in the role of the bewildered young mother. Possessing a thrilling voice, Miller navigated the challenging solo "Your Daddy's Son" and the duet "Wheels of a Dream" with co-star Norm Lewis to great acclaim from the audience. Tony nominee Lewis as Coalhouse Walker, Jr., brought his rich bari-tenor to such songs as "Gettin' Ready Rag" and "Make Them Hear You."

Other compelling performances from the evening were Michael Arden's passionate turn as Mother's Younger Brother; Tony nominee Howard McGillin as the refined and occasionally frosty Father (a delight during "New Music"); Phillip Boykin's richly-sung Booker T. Washington; Kerry Butler as a perfectly vapid Evelyn Nesbit; and NaTasha Yvette Williams' rousing and soulful solo as Sarah's Friend during the first act finale, "Til We Reach That Day."

Sheilah Walker conducted the orchestra and chorus. If there were any detractions from the night, it was that the intricate and beautifully-voiced orchestrations by William David Brohn and vocal arrangements by Flaherty were occasionally lost and overpowered by the number of individuals (both musicians and chorus) performing on stage.

Arima also delivered several inspired directorial touches, including a wonderful moment for the chorus during "What a Game" as they craned to reach for a fly ball. Beowulf Boritt provided the suggestive scenery in the form of black and white period photographs, which were projected above the performers — lending not only a sense of place to the proceedings, but giving the performance additional historic weight.