Signature Theatre's new production of Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty, and Terrence McNally's Ragtime begins at the D.C.-area theatre October 24, with performances scheduled through January 7, 2024. Artistic Director Matthew Gardiner is at the helm with Ashleigh King choreographing.
Nkrumah Gatling (Camelot) stars as Coalhouse Walker, Jr., with Teal Wicks (The Cher Show) as Mother, Bill English (Anything Goes) as Father, Jake Loewenthal as Mother's Younger Brother, Awa Sal Secka as Sarah, and Bobby Smith as Tateh.
The company also includes Lawrence Redmond as Grandfather, Maria Rizzo as Evelyn Nesbit, Todd Scofield as J.P. Morgan, Edward L. Simon as Harry Houdini, Dani Stoller as Emma Goldman, Jordyn Taylor as Sarah's Friend, Gregory Twomey as Willie Conklin, Douglas Ullman Jr. as Henry Ford, Tobias A. Young as Booker T. Washington, Keenan McCarter as Matthew Henson, Erin Driscoll as Kathleen, and Claire Leyden as Brigit, with Ariel Friendly, Nurney, Theodore Sapp, and Kara-Tameika Watkins rounding out the ensemble. Tobi Baisburd, Trenton McKenzie Beavers, IO Browne, Jordan Clark Halsey, and Lucas Rahaim are understudies.
Matthew Lamb is playing Little Boy, with Avery Laina Harris and Emerson Holt Lacayo alternating as Little Girl and Jonathan Keith and Maxwell Kwadjo Talbert alternating as Coalhouse Walker III.
Based on the classic American novel by E.L. Doctorow, Ragtime has a score by Ahrens and Flaherty (Once On This Island, Anastasia, Seussical) and a book by McNally (Master Class, Love! Valour! Compassion!).
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 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 Audra McDonald, and Best Orchestrations for William David Brohn.
Gardiner's creative team for the Signature production includes music director Jon Kalbfleisch, scenic designer Lee Savage, costume designer Erik Teague, lighting designer Tyler Micoleau, sound designer Eric Norris, wig designer Anne Nesmith, fight director Casey Kabela, dialect coach Lisa Nathans, and EDIA consultant and dramaturg Dr. Amena Johnson. Casting is by Jorge Acevedo with New York casting by Whitley Theatrical's Benton Whitley and Micah Johnson-Levy. Kerry Epstein is production stage manager, with Joey Blakely, Taryn Friend, and Julia Singer as assistant stage managers.