Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

May 10, 2011


Opera House Players, Broad Brook, CT
through May 21, 2011
by Vickie Phillips

Take a journey back in time...Ragtime, 1906! This outstanding work by composer Stephen Flaherty, lryicist Lynn Ahrens and book by Terrence McNally has been greatly enhanced by Artistic Director Sharon FitzHenry and Music Director Bill Martin who have led the talented cast of The Opera House Players into a wonderfully entertaining production. The result is outstanding.
From the opening notes, the voices of the company on stage are nothing less than musically thrilling to hear. A strong cast featuring the talents of J.J. Martin (Father), Sue Dziura (Mother), Jerrial Young (Coalhouse), Chae-vonne Munroe (Sarah), Jayne Newirth (Emma Goldman), and Luis Manzi (Tateh) lead a large cast of more than 20 on stage, all beautifully costumed in turn of the century period by Moonyear Fields.

Another excellent production enhancement is the sound (Paul Leone) and lighting (Dianne St. Amand). The story line is set in New Rochelle and Harlem, New York, with families who have...and those who have not.  he affluance and hard times collide, bringing out the best and worst in people who are forced to share the many levels of their lives. The great "characters" of the day include Booker T. Washington, Houdini, JP Morgan and Henry Ford, played with flair and conviction by Joshua Thompson, Andrew Small, David Climo and Matthew Falkowski, Sr. respectively.

"On The Wheels of a Dream," the duet with Young and Munroe soars. "Gettin' Ready Rag" and "What A Game Of Baseball" are entertaining winners. "The Night Goldman Spoke at Union Square" makes a very strong statement and Act One closes with a powerful punch in "Till We Reach That Day." Luis Manzi sings a heart warming "Gliding," .then a smashing "Making Movies".

Act Two continued with FitzHenry's directorial creativity, and Martin's conducting the his talented musicians. This is an orchestra. The strength of Jayne Newirth as Emma Goldman is solid. Sue Dzura's rendition of "Back To Before" is another great moment of this electic show. Although the thought expressed at the top of the show is "what the world needs is a good kick in the pants," "Ragtime" rings with the sound of distant thunder -- music of a century spinning. Ragtime rocks!