Theatre Under the Stars’ performance of “Ragtime” may be an even more relevant and cherished musical today than ever.
Although the play debuted in 1998, it could have been written in the era of the Black Lives Matter movement. The story explores themes of race, gender, class and immigration through the lens of early 1900s America. With these issues often being the news headlines, “Ragtime” provides an essential discourse today. Art like this musical can help us examine, and I hope to change, our perspectives on the social issues that are part of our American heritage.
The song “Make Them Hear You” is an incredibly deep and passionate anthem for Civil Rights causes. Ezekiel Andrew’s gives an incredible performance as the protagonist, ragtime musician Coalhouse Walker Jr. Both his voice and acting are powerful and help make the character larger than life.
Courtney Markowitz’s performance as Mother is stunningly beautiful and down-to-earth. As a white woman, Mother is the role I personally relate to the most. Her character arc as she identifies and redefines her gender role, self-identity and allyship is inspirational. The songs “Goodbye, My Love” then “What Kind of Woman” and “Back to Before” show the stages she grows through.
Robert Petkoff plays Tateh, the immigrant father we all want to root for. At the Hobby Center theater, it is fitting that the poem inscribed at the Statue of Liberty frame the stage for this show. Tateh and his daughter (Maya Kaul) are the embodiment of the promise of the American dream for immigrants. Petkoff makes the character fills the character with hopeful optimism and energy for the future as well as the pain of the hardships he encounters.
If you have never seen “Ragtime,” seize your chance to see this essential American classic in Houston. The Theatre Under the Stars’ performance is will blow you away. Theatre Under the Stars’ is performing “Ragtime” through April 28. Fair warning, this performance contains audible gunshots, display of weapons, and portrays death. Tickets start at $30, plus discounted student rush tickets are available. TUTS is located in downtown Houston at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts. Street parking is free after 6 p.m. and all day on Sunday.