Ragtime the Musical by Sedos
Ragtime is musical set in 1906 which focuses on people searching for the American dream. From Coalhouse who is determined to win over Sarah and make a life for their family together to Tateh and his daughter, Latvian immigrants who want to make their fortune. We also meet the Family who live in an upper class white neighbourhood who find their lives changed when Sarah’s baby arrives on their doorstep.
Sedos makes their mark on Ragtime from the first chord through to the bows. During the Prologue some beautiful scenes are formed in front of the audience but more strikingly a huge rich sound with complex harmonies, soaring solo lines and a lavish 18 piece orchestra. This high bar set in the opening is luckily maintained throughout the show and it is very polished and thoughtfully directed.
Jonathan Grant plays Coalhouse Walker Jr and he captures the audiences attention immediately. His duet with Sarah, played by Sara Rajeswaran ‘Wheels of A Dream,’ is a real showstopper. Equally Rob Archibald as Tateh ensures that the audience immediately warm to him. Whilst these individuals are singled out there are so many characters within Ragtime that it would be impossible to name them all but all of them and the entire ensemble really shone at the appropriate moments.
The set itself is simple, with 2 raised platforms on either side of the stage but this allows for the audiences imagination to take them where they need to be. A minor niggle would be sightlines on occasion. From auditorium right I sometimes struggled to see what was happening on the platform on stage right, especially if they were sitting down or behind the small pillar. Despite the large cast (32) and the relatively small stage, choreographers Victoria-Louise Currie and Rachel Elfassy-Bitoun ensured that it never felt cramped. Whilst discussing the set I must also mention the car that gets trashed throughout the show. The inventive car was a masterstroke and perfectly demonstrated that you can have all the money and flashy set that you want but what really triumphs is imagination.
The costumes are a delight to look at. The entire cast is costumed in period clothing and the contrast of The Family dressed in white to the black members of the cast in bright purples and plums really helped paint a visual picture of the differences of the groups throughout the show.
Sedos have achieved another high class and polished performance in Ragtime. It managed to move me from anger to sadness and send shivers down my spine throughout.
Ragtime is on at the Bridewell Theatre until 23rd November at the Bridewell Theatre. To find out more visit their website.