Brian Stokes Mitchell Offers Update on Ragtime Benefit Concert | Playbill

Benefits and Galas Brian Stokes Mitchell Offers Update on Ragtime Benefit Concert

The concert, benefiting the Entertainment Community Fund, was originally scheduled for April 27, 2020.

The concert version of the Tony-nominated musical Ragtime, originally scheduled for April 27, 2020, to benefit the Entertainment Community Fund (formerly The Actors Fund), will now be held in 2023, although no official date has been announced.

Entertainment Community Fund Chairman and original Ragtime star Brian Stokes Mitchell shares an update for those who previously purchased tickets in the video above. Says the Broadway favorite, "As you know, the concert had to be postponed due to the [pandemic]… Yet, you've remained steadfast and held onto your tickets for the last two years. I can't tell you how much that means to all of us in the company as well as at the Entertainment Community Fund… Our hope is that we can bring this concert to life in 2023 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Ragtime… We all want to produce the concert that you deserve and come together for a night that we'll never forget.… Thank you all for continuing to support Ragtime and all of the amazing work of the Entertainment Community Fund."

The evening was previously announced to star original cast members: six-time Tony winner Audra McDonald as Sarah, two-time Tony winner Mitchell as Coalhouse Walker, Jr., and Tony nominee Peter Friedman as Tateh. Stafford Arima was announced to direct, with music supervision by David Loud and James Moore conducting.

The concert will be dedicated to the late Marin Mazzie, who received one of her three Tony nominations for her portrayal of Mother in the original 1998 production.

Based on the classic American novel by E.L. Doctorow, Ragtime has a score by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty (Once On This Island, Anastasia, Seussical) and a book by Terrence McNally (Master Class, Love! Valour! Compassion!).

“Our community was heartbroken at the loss of one of Broadway’s great stars, my good friend, and original Ragtime cast member Marin Mazzie,” said Actors Fund Chairman Mitchell in a statement in 2020. “Marin’s courage and grace inspired everyone who knew her as well as her countless fans and generations of theatre professionals. She was a true original and our cast, creative team, and The Actors Fund are proud to dedicate this evening to her memory.”

Ragtime is a quintessential American story—it’s about the struggles of immigrants seeking a better life in America, it’s about the reality of racism in our society, and it’s about income inequality, juxtaposing these struggles against the incredible wealth of the one percent,” added Actors Fund CEO Joe Benincasa at the time. “Although the story takes place a hundred years ago, the issues it presents are relevant in today’s society and the current civil discourse. We’re honored that Stokes, Audra, Lynn, Stephen, Terrence, and so many in this original cast are bringing back this beloved musical to help The Fund continue our ongoing work of providing a supportive safety net to everyone in the performing arts and entertainment in times of need.”

Ragtime underwent a two-year gestation under the auspices of Garth Drabinsky, opening in Toronto in December 1996 and then in Los Angeles in June 1997 before arriving on Broadway. The production was directed by Tony winner Frank Galati with choreography by Graciela Daniele.

The musical mixes fictional characters and historical ones in telling the story of Coalhouse Walker Jr., a Black man who buys a Model T Ford, setting off a chain of events that involve all levels of New York City society—along with magician Harry Houdini, industrialist Henry Ford, celebrity Evelyn Nesbit, Black leader Booker T. Washington, architect Sanford White, revolutionary Emma Goldman, Admiral Peary, a Latvian immigrant who becomes a movie director, and a not-so-quiet family in suburban New Rochelle, New York.

The original Broadway production featured a cast led by McDonald as Sarah, Mitchell as Coalhouse Walker Jr., Mazzie as Mother, Mark Jacoby as Father, Steven Sutcliffe as Mother's Younger Brother, Friedman as Tateh, Judy Kaye as Emma Goldman, Jim Corti as Harry Houdini, Lynette Perry as Evelyn Nesbit, Tommy Hollis as Booker T. Washington, and Larry Daggett as Henry Ford.

The musical was nominated for 14 1998 Tony Awards, including Best Musical. It took home four awards, including Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Score, Best Featured Actress in a Musical for McDonald, and Best Orchestrations for William David Brohn.

The Entertainment Community Fund is a national human services organization that fosters stability and resiliency, and provides a safety net for performing arts and entertainment professionals over their lifespan. 

Tickets are currently not on sale. For updates about the concert, click here.

Look Back at the Original Production of Ragtime

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