Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ragtime

Portland Center Stage **Photo credit: Owen Carey**
September 22 - November 1, 2009

Review by peanutduck

Even-keeled but that works as story focuses on the many faces of early 20th century America rather than one. Leif Norby, Susannah Mars lovely. Set’s intention puzzled, distracted - bare stage flanked by marble walls, industrial copper doors – meaning continually morphed - train station, tomb, edifice. Chairs as everyprop irritated.

19 comments:

Matthew B said...

A remarkable example of sophisticated storytelling that trusts the audience to engage their imaginations in wonderful ways.

The minimalist concept paired with first rate performances resulted in my having one of the most enjoyable evenings at the theater in some time.

Congrats to PCS, Chris Coleman, Rick Lewis, the cast, everyone involved! Bravo!

Anonymous said...

For once Chris Coleman's "vision" doesn't interfere with the source material. Fantastic cast consisting of both PDX stalwarts and some guests. Only complaint: relentlessly mediocre musical direction.

Anonymous said...

I had never seen this show, so I can't compare it to other productions, but it seemed very solid, given a relatively pared-down cast and minimal set design. I think any perceived weaknesses may lie with the get-it-all-in design of the script, and occasional patness of the plotting, rather than any fault of PCS's. They reportedly cast for strong singers -- and that shows -- but it's also great that the two of three principals who are locals (Norby and Mars) do us proud. I can't say it was an overwhelming theatrical experience; I wasn't really inclined to join the rest of the audience in the standing ovation. But it was a generally satisfying show that focused on the story and songs without leaning on glitz and technical magic.

Anonymous said...

So, if the musical direction (assuming you know what it is!) is "relentlessly mediocre," how could you sit through 2-1/2 hours of this show!? It's continuous music. And, what is the basis of your comment? Founded in what? Based on what criteria? Relentless? Yes -- it's non-stop, continuous music. Mediocre? How? Because it gets in the way of what you saw? Perhaps an intelligent comment would be appropriate, not one based on "who knows what." If you're going to leave such negative biased comments, please back them up with at least an implied sense of thought.

Anonymous said...

Portland theater friends, how are you not raving about this show?!? It was magnificent. The minimalist staging allowed the actors to shine, which they -- to a person --did. This approach allowed the audience to focus on the story, which was quite a wonderful experience. Strong performances throughout, including Leif and Susannah. Their duet was lovely and quite touching, and they absolutely "held their own" with the Broadway actors.

This show was first rate and something of which the Portland theater community should be quite proud. My only question is why the show was not soldout?

Anonymous said...

I sat through the show because I love the music and personally know three of the leads. Their performances were marvelous. The tempi, sloppy playing and complete lack of dynamics are what I called relentlessly mediocre. I'm a symphony musician, I think I probably have a handle on what musical direction is, but thanks anyway.

Got no day job said...

I'm gonna guess that most us poor actortypes haven't seen it because we can't afford the ticket price.
I'm sure it's great, but with this economy, I'm also gonna guess that's why it's not sold out.

Yes, I know I can sign up to usher or try for student rush or whatever. I guess that feels like a lot of work when I can see something a lot cheaper at one of Portland's smaller theaters.

Anonymous said...

Y'know, tickets start at $25. Where are you seeing musicals for less?

Anonymous said...

My apologies, Symphony player. I appreciate the fortitude with which you endured the production, and the allegiance you paid to your three friends. I'm also pleased that, despite the mediocre musical direction, that their performances were "marvelous." I'm pleased that your gracious attention did not let the mediocrity interfere with your appreciation of their work. And, my apologies for not understanding the breadth of knowledge that you must have playing an instrument in a symphony... Humbled.

Terry said...

You know, "Humbled," you come off as a rather arrogant person in both of your posts. You were the one taking the symphony guy (or gal) to task for not knowing what a Musical Director was, and when it turns out they did, you respond with a comment dripping with sarcasm. I'm no expert, but I found a lot to like about "Ragtime," and thought the orchestra was OK (not great, but not bad), but when it turns out someone does know what they're talking about, you really should just accept their opinion without the attitude.

Anonymous said...

This is a fantastic show. I loved everything about it - the acting, the music, the minimal set design. Congrats, PCS - this is by far one of your very best.

Anonymous said...

Props: There is always one jerk in the audience that notes when a prop is not of the period. For me, it was the boy's baseball mitt. It was my favorite number in the show but that much too modern glove made me go "tsk! tsk!"

Anonymous said...

I thought the kid that played the little boy was hilarious... he had spot on comedy timing. Congratulations to him for doing a great job.

Anonymous said...

Was that Alex Thede?

Great kid.

Anonymous said...

I loved the minimalist concept and thought it worked extremely well with the story! Congrats to cast and crew. Ragtime is the best show I have seen at PCS!!!

tarnation said...

At its best, a sweeping entertaining musical. Choreography a little simple, I found the little boy too overtly conscious of his performance. Everyone sings very well. Set effective but the lighting a little too gauzy. I'm glad they didn't try to make overmuch of the small bits of meaning in the show, they seemed more true as part of spectacle. A good show!

Anonymous said...

I have seen the show twice and would certainly see it again! The music and performances are equal to many show I have seen on Broadway. Seems to be an awful lot of snitting about odd elements on this blog and many comments are inconsistent. If the musical direction were bad - you wouldn't enjoy the performances of the singers. I think Rick Lewis did an incredible job in bringing the music to life and helping the performers be their best. Some of the set is sparce - but really let's you focus on the story. I think that Chris Coleman did a great job or not over telling the story. Props to the cast for an incredible job. Wish the press would support all theater in Portland more - this is an incredible show.

Rick said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but are there not $10 rush tickets available for this show? Even an unemployed actor should be able to afford that (especially if you're seeing shows elsewhere in town - I don't see much available for less than $10).
Also, the Chinook Book has 2-for-1 coupons for a number of theaters, including this one (at least the 2009 book did).
And as someone pointed out, there is always ushering.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to say you are wrong. Rush tickets used to be $10, then went up to $15 and are now $20. In this particular case, Ragtime is certainly worth it - but it's not a trifling amount.