Ragtime on Ellis Island
For more information, visit our main website: RagtimeOnEllis.com
“On Ellis Island, waves of immigrants arrive and wait for processing” is a stage direction—a simple directive in the musical Ragtime, which first opened on Broadway in 1998. And in this production, the stage direction was followed; groups of actors dressed as immigrants from around the world at the turn of the century eagerly awaited entry to the ‘land of opportunity’ they had been seeking.
In the summer of 2017—19 years from the original Broadway production—a group of artists will present a literal interpretation of that stage direction. In a site- specific rendition of Ragtime on Ellis Island, the actors playing immigrants and the audience alike will inhabit the hallowed ground that early 20th century immigrants once crossed. And when the actors sing of the freedom they seek, they will look out the windows of the Registry Room to the Statue of Liberty. In this way, the site will enhance the production and the production will enhance the site, each conferring authenticity upon the other.
Our team believes that this production offers an unprecedented opportunity to combine the powerful tool of site-specific theater, the rich source material of Ragtime, and the meaningful site of Ellis Island. Ragtime, in discussing classism, patriotism, racial tensions, hope, and freedom helps us, through a magnificent and classic story, to answer the question: “what does it mean to be American?” And so, this production seeks to place that story, these themes, and that question on a historical landmark that itself represents and helps to define American identity.
Our team, composed of recent Harvard and Stanford graduates, has been putting this piece together for over two years. The next step in our journey is a developmental concert version of the musical on August 8th. I look forward to answering any questions you may have and thank you for your interest in this project.
Director: Sammi Cannold
Producer: Brandon Powell
Music Director: Madeline Smith
Casting: Ally Kiley
General Manager: Sam Moore
Partners include: The National Park Service, Evelyn Hill, Statue Cruises, Bestek Lighting & Staging, Music Theatre International, and Actors’ Equity Association.
This summer’s concert will include 10 songs from Ragtime under a letter of permission from Music Theatre International on behalf of Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty