TORONTO THEATRE NEWS
Ragtime, the Broadway musical that originated in Toronto, will be getting a second life in Londonís West End
Francis Chen (Tuesday, February 04, 2003)
Ragtime, the Broadway musical that originated in Toronto, will be getting a second life in Londonís West End after a shorter than expected run on Broadway. The show is scheduled to open at the Piccadilly Theatre on March 19, 2003.
The original stage production has never been shown in London; however, a concert version was presented in 2002 at the International Festival of Musical Theatre at the city of Cardiff, Wales. The concert was directed Stafford Arima who will also direct the West End stage version of the musical in March.
The London production claims 'freshly conceived and designed for its West End premiere'. Choreography by Candace Jennings, setting and costume will be designed by Robert Jones, lighting by Howard Harrison. The show will star Maria Friedman (who also previously appeared in the concert version), Dave Willets, Graham Bickley and Kevyn Morrow.
Ragtime is based on E. L. Doctorow's 1975 novel of the same title.
In 1994, Garth Drabinsky, Chairman of Livent acquired worldwide theatrical rights to Ragtime. After two years of development at a cost of $10 million dollars, Ragtime debuted in Toronto in Dec 1996 at the Ford Centre for performing Arts. The show closed in Toronto in August 1997 and reopened on Broadway on January 1998 at the New York Ford Centre for Performing Arts. Since then, Ragtime has never made its way back to Toronto. The last time Ragtime hit Ontario was with a scaled down touring production at Centre in the Square in Kitchener.
Livent declared bankruptcy on Nov 1999. All their assets including the theatrical rights to Ragtime; were acquired by SFX entertainment. SFX shortened the show's Broadway run when ticket sales started to slump which made it difficult to cover the weekly expenses of $500,000. The mega musical closed on Broadway on January 2000, after 26 previews and 861 performances. Many theatre critics are convinced that SFX closed down Ragtime too soon.
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