Boston Pops hosted symphonic concert performances of Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty, and Terrence McNally's Ragtime May 12 and 13. Thanks to a radio broadcast on Classical Radio Boston, the May 13 performance can be streamed in full on demand online at ClassicalWCRB.org.
The cast, many Broadway favorites, included Phumzile Sojola as Coalhouse Walker, Jr., Elizabeth Stanley as Mother, John Cariani as Tateh, Nikki Renée Daniels as Sarah, David Harris as Father, A.J. Shively as Mother's Younger Brother, Klea Blackhurst as Emma Goldman, Julia Little as The Little Girl, and Quinn Murphy as The Little Boy. Jason Danieley, widower of Ragtime original cast member Marin Mazzie, directed the concerts.
Pops Artistic Director Keith Lockhart leads the orchestra, playing William David Brohn's original orchestrations, newly expanded by Kim Scharnberg. This symphonic concert version of the 1998 musical was commissioned by the Pops in 2020, and the 2023 performances were dedicated to the memory of book writer McNally, who worked on its creation.
The cast also included Christopher Chew as J.P. Morgan, Marylee Fairbanks as Kathleen, Brandon Grimes as Henry Ford, Lydia Harrell as Sarah's Friend, Emerson Hart as Stanford White, Craig Juricka as Harry K. Thaw, Todd McNeel, Jr. as Booker T. Washington, Sophie Mings as Evelyn Nesbit, Samuel Moscoso as Harry Houdini, Firo Oliva Ridge as Little Coalhouse, and Bill Spera as Grandfather and Admiral Peary, along with Wayne Arthur, Jennifer Caraluzzi, A-Larenée Davis, Bonnie Fraser Diamond, Jennifer Ellis, Mary Kate Hughes, Chris Hunter, Andrea Jones-Sojola, Chrus Murray, Zipprah Peddle, Kayla Rush, Juliet Simon, and Leon Williams. Rounding out the company as covers were Catherine Fortino, Haley Herman, Annabella Hunt, Haydn Kelley, Adam Khaykin, Justin Petersen, Alex Poletti, and Rory Shirley.
The evening featured projections design by Wendall Harrington, lighting design by Pamela Smith, and sound design by Steve Colby. Deb Acquavella was stage manager.
This concert version of Ragtime is set to be reprised July 8 with much of the same cast at Massachusetts' Tanglewood.
Based on the classic American novel by E.L. Doctorow, Ragtime 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 involves 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 Pops' concert of the 1998 musical follows a starry reunion of much of the work's original Broadway cast earlier this season, with Audra McDonald and Brian Stokes Mitchell both re-creating their performances as Sarah and Coalhouse, respectively.