Wednesday night, West Virginia University’s Creative Arts Center welcomed the musical "Ragtime" for a one-night show during its national Off-Broadway tour.
"I thought the music was absolutely beautiful. I liked how they showed compassion for people right from the beginning," said Beth Schermerhorn, an audience member. "I liked how the mother was so compassionate about helping the baby no matter what. She didn’t give up even if she had to relocate her and her family. She still had passion for that child."
Throughout the show, three main character plots overlapped and entangled each other. The main characters’ stories included a new immigrant in America, an African American pianist and a wealthy white family.
Tateh and his daughter move to America with dreams of becoming successful. While trying to sell silhouette pictures in New York City, he finds himself being beaten down by America. On the edge of desperation, they travel to Boston. Once he found a job, poor working conditions caused him to strike. In the mess of the Children’s Crusades, the two end up in Philadelphia where he sells his first ‘movie-book.’ That was the beginning of his success as a director and producer.
After being a travelling musician, Coalhouse Walker Jr. finally has a stable job as a pianist and is looking for his love Sarah. He finds her working for the white family and comes to court her every Sunday. On his first visit, he finds out that he has a son. Eventually, he and Sarah fall in love. However, Walker becomes trapped with the idea of justice against racism he faced. Sarah tries to plea to the President to help Walker, but in a misfortunate event ends up being killed. Walker becomes struck with the idea of revenge. In a plan to blow up The Morgan Library, he was promised a fair trial to surrender peacefully, only to be killed as soon as he walked out the door.
While her husband was travelling, the wealthy mother finds Sarah’s baby left in the garden. She takes both of them in and cares for them. She and her son meet Tateh and his daughter in the train station and again when he becomes successful.
The show remained lighthearted with its juxtaposition of witty comments and humorous songs within the dark, emotional content.
"I really liked that Sarah, while walking across the stage with her melody, was the reason that he remembered who he really is," said Ashley Koon, senior BFA theatre and acting student.
"You see on the news everyday these conflicts. Something as simple as vandalism you still see today. Racism and hatred and people being treated differently because of the color of their skin are such present day problems. I think that is what makes this musical one of the best written within the past 50 years because it is so relatable."
With a standing ovation, the people in the audience left the show still humming, whistling and singing some of the catchy songs within the show.
For more information on future events at the CAC, visit http://www.events.wvu.edu.