Upper School Students Delivery Outstanding Performance of Ragtime

Nearly 60 students produced and performed the musical Ragtime in the Orthwein Theater last spring. Ragtime is set in early twentieth century New York. The lives of three dissimilar characters are woven together through courage, compassion and belief in the promise of the future. Together, they confront history’s timeless contradictions of wealth and poverty, freedom and prejudice, hope and despair, and what it means to live in America.*

“Ragtime deals with a lot of raw emotion that it almost forces its audience and actors to feel,” said Zion Thomas ’19. “I am no exception. Emotions related to injustice, degradation of manhood, loss and revenge are difficult to superficially replicate. They must be deeply understood and felt if one is to communicate them successfully. I welcomed the intensity of the material and I tried my best to do it justice.” Thomas played Coalhouse Walker Jr., a daring young Harlem musician. “The character taught me that justice ought to be demanded when the crime threatens your humanity. To inspire others to righteously stand up and speak out when they have been done wrong requires persistence and sacrifice. Hopefully, others will not stand idly by and fall victim to the same injustices done to those before them.”

Harry Coovert ’19 played the role of Tateh, a determined Jewish immigrant. He said, “Ragtime dealt with controversial material. This was interesting to work with because it gave everybody a different perspective on the social issues addressed in the show. My favorite part about doing this production was gaining new understanding of social issues and getting to know the cast as a whole. The sense of community provided by such an experience cannot easily be recreated. Working with a production like Ragtime was a great experience because it gave me historical insight on the issues that we face in today’s society.”

Parent Nicole Rollo brought her daughter to see the production, and they thoroughly enjoyed the show. She said, “We thought it was a courageous choice on the school’s part to take on the subject matter, which is powerfully relevant and could have been controversial. The MICDS students demonstrated impressive grace and integrity as the show explored race, immigration and violence. The performances were nuanced and the quality of the production overall was really impressive.”

Bryn Daney ’20 was Mother, a stifled, upper-class wife. She said, “The Ragtime material was daunting at first. However, as I got more familiar with the material, I realized that this musical is needed now more than ever. It confronts the perennial topic of social injustice that keeps plaguing our society. From the score to the script, everything about the show is brilliant. I am very fortunate to have been the voice for the characters on the page. Art truly does have the capacity to teach us about ourselves and our community. The story is deeply moving, and could not be more relevant than in today’s society. We sparked the discussion of change within our community on the themes of race, immigration, justice for women and minorities, and more. With this, we build a stronger community. Everyone involved in this production put their heart and soul into it. The most rewarding part of this experience is to hear people discuss the change this show elicited in themselves.”

*From MTI Music Theater International