Park Square Theatre tackles Ragtime to start off 2012, bringing the complex musical, based on E.L. Doctorow's novel, to its stage. The story is set in the early part of the 20th century, and follows a trio of families—one upper-class white, one Jewish immigrant, one African-American—as their lives play out against the backdrop of social unrest and change. The musical version, with a book by Terrance McNally and songs by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, made its Broadway debut in 1998, winning several Tony Awards (though it lost the big Best Musical prize to The Lion King, a show playing across the river right now in Minneapolis). The musical embraces the large scope of Doctorow's original, mixing in real-life characters (from Henry Ford to Houdini) with the main story, which centers on a ragtime musician (Coalhouse Walker Jr., played by Harry Waters Jr.) who, after his family is the target of a racially motivated attack, searches for justice in a society that hasn't gotten around to giving women the right to vote. Longtime veteran director Gary Gisselman helms the Park Square production, which promises to be the biggest undertaking in the company's history, with a 35-actor cast. (Photo by Petronella Ytsma)
Wednesdays-Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Starts: Jan. 20. Continues through Feb. 12, 2012

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