Ragtime in Riverside

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By Robyn Lopez

By Robyn Lopez

“Ragtime!” could be heard echoing through the Landis Performing Arts Center, as the performers had the audience scream it at the beginning of “Ragtime: The Musical’s” opening night, here on the Riverside Campus.

The show started off with a bang, as the cast met up on stage to sing the show’s opening number “Ragtime!”

Nicole Pryer, in the role of Sarah, a young woman trying to find herself in a society with all the odds against her, did a fantastic job. Charl Brown, another sensational performer, portrayed Coalhouse Walker Jr., a young man with a gift to play the piano.

Make sure you listen for “Wheels of a Dream,” a powerful and moving number that shows off the outstanding vocal range of both Pryer and Brown. They sing passionately about living for something more in America and being treated as equals and with respect.

Keep your eyes open for Richard Bermudez, who plays world famous Harry Houdini; and Barbara Chiofolo as Evelyn Nesbit, a flashy movie star. You’ll also see RCC’s own Dr. Bill Vincent, who does a great job playing Booker T. Washington.

Victoria Strong is Mother, the woman who brings the story together. It’s in the scene in which she is gardening in her yard and finds what she calls a “colored” baby in her bushes, where the story really begins. From that scene on, every important character comes in and the moral of the story is seen.

People from everywhere come to America to live the American dream. The characters want to be treated fairly, equally, and have the same opportunities as everyone else. A Latvian immigrant wants his daughter to live a life where she does not have to worry about when she might be able to eat again. Sarah and Coalhouse want to live together in a world where they won’t be judged by the color of their skin.

One reason to see this play is the talented leading cast. It is suitable for all ages, and has a great storyline and life lesson. It is also a chance to witness the hardships some people went through at the turn of the 20th century. Of course there’s the great song and dance numbers as well.You should not miss this powerful performance about poverty, loss, racism, prejudice, hopes and dreams, love, wealth and immigration.

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