Last night a friend of mine offered me tickets to view “Ragtime” at the Hale Center Theatre. I had been meaning to go see this production, but had never actually made time. A free ticket? Boom! Time just opened up in my calendar!
Upon experiencing this show, my one burning question is this: HOW HAVE I NOT KNOWN ABOUT THIS MUSICAL BEFORE NOW??? Oh, for sha-a-a-ame! Good Lands, I am in love! I have been bitten and I don’t want to know the cure! Wha-the-hah-I’thu… Glory me and Goodness Sakes! I am spellbound, enthralled, enchanted, captivated, smitten with the plague of it! If it were a man, I’d marry it.
This rather visceral reaction is highly out-of-character for me. I really try my best to keep a low profile; not get too excited about much of anything if I can help it. (And you can stop that snickering right now, Missy. You know who you are.) It’s true… mostly. The thing is, I am highly reactive on the inside. So I really try to do my best to keep my reactions to EVERYTHING bottled until the fizz and foam have at least dissipated somewhat and I can judge from a moderated point of view; relatively free of emotion in a logical, clear-headed manner.
Somehow, I suspect that my attitude toward and about “Ragtime, the Musical” will never be completely free of emotion. Sure, it has its faults; its holes; its problematic moments. What play or musical doesn’t? I forgive it all its faults for having one of the most powerful stories set to music, song and dance, I’ve ever seen. There are so many stories all entrenched here. I don’t know how anyone could experience this production and not relate to at least one of them. It sings to the patriot in all of us. It wrenches at the heart of any parent who loves or has loved a child. It caresses the soul like the many lovers of our lives: the flashing flame of youth, the steady mottled ebb and glow of love on a lifeline; the tenuous question of love that is leaving. It leads us into a dance with death through pride and moral certitude. It questions. It explores. It honors our humanity in all its weakness and all it wonder.
All of it, nearly, carried by angel’s wings on the twilight of acoustitian. Music, music, music… everywhere! From beginning to end: the story rides the phantom flame that speaks the language of our collective souls. This is the immortal power of the story: the music of it. It wasn’t until afterward when I was making the forty-five minute drive home in the dark of night that it hit. My heart began to replay the musical stories from the previous three hours, and I wept… all the way home. It’s a miracle I could still see the road.
One of the first things I did after viewing this production was to look for a film version of it. And indeed, there is a film version adapted from the novel: a non-musical. It falls flat on its face, in my opinion, lacking that vital magical ingredient.
I MUST MAKE THIS FILM! “Ragtime, the Musical!” Not two minutes into it, I was already designing shot-lists for it in my head. I was scouting locations and casting actors. I see the film already in my mind’s eye! This is my film! Well, one of them. How it will happen and when it will happen, I do not know. I only know that my blood is burning and I am the passion of it. I respect this work from the depths of my soul and I want to bring it to the masses. I must transform this into film.
For those of you who may not live in the “artists realm”, I apologize if this sounds a little crazy. Or maybe a whole lotta crazy. Artists are passionate people. It’s the only way to truly make art. Art without passion has no power to move men’s souls. (I’m sure someone greater than I must have said that, but I couldn’t tell you who and I couldn’t find it anywhere.)
But here’s a great quote from John Wesley: “When you set yourself on fire, people love to come and see you burn.” Oh dude! I am on fire with this one.
The big problem now is the cloning technology. I don’t have enough of me to go around. Or rather, I have several passions and I really need a clone! Either that, or a time machine, or a magical fountain-of-perpetual-youth. Any one of the three, really, would be fine. I’m somewhat partial to the idea of perpetual youth, but hey! I’m easy! I suppose a status of independent wealth would really take care of a lot of it. Then, at least, I wouldn’t have to divide my time. I could focus.
Speaking of focus: “Ragtime, the Musical” is playing at the Hale Center Theatre in West Valley City through July 27, 2013, and is selling out nightly. If you haven’t seen it, go! Drop what you’re doing and just go! If you have seen it, good for you: go again if you can find a ticket. You won’t be sorry.
To Sally Dietlein (producer), Chris Clark (director), Marilyn May Montgomery (Choreographer), Kelly DeHaan (Musical Director), and all the cast and crew: well-done, my lovelies! To Terrence McNally (book), Lynn Ahrens (lyrics), and Stephen Flaherty (music): Namaste, sagacious artisans! Thank you for the enlightenment!