Chattanooga Now Cumberland County Playhouse takes on challenging, sweeping musical 'Ragtime'

Chattanooga Now Cumberland County Playhouse takes on challenging, sweeping musical 'Ragtime'

October 10th, 2013 by Clint Cooper in Chattanooga Now - Art


* What: "Ragtime."

* When: Oct. 11-Nov. 16 (showtimes vary).

* Where: Cumberland County Playhouse, 221 Tennessee Ave., Crossville, Tenn.

* Admission:$14-$27.

* Phone: 931-484-5000.

* Website:

"Ragtime," which opens Friday, Oct. 11, at the Cumberland County Playhouse, is a musical epic on the scale of "Les Miserables," according to producing director Jim Crabtree. Instead of 19th-century France, though, it's set in New York just after the turn of the 20th century.

"It's real history," says Crabtree, "with adventures of great characters and wonderful music."

Ragtime, the musical genre that gave the play its name, is among several musical and dance styles in the show.

The production brings together the lives of three diverse families: upper-class suburbanites in New Rochelle, N.Y., blacks in Harlem and Eastern European immigrants landing at Ellis Island.

"It's a wonderful musical tapestry of history," according to Crabtree. "They're all striving to make America home."

The "very, very challenging work" has never been produced at CCP, he says, and has rarely been produced elsewhere in Tennessee.

Principal actors in the cast of 60 include Horace Smith, Joann Coleman, Nicole Bégué Hackmann and Britt Hancock.

Crabtree says "Ragtime" features cutting-edge projected scenic backgrounds of historic images of the era by international media designer Adam Dunaway. The Crossville, Tenn., native first trained at CCP before founding his Chicago-based Dunaway Designs.

"It's all kind of a living newspaper approach to the design," he says.

"Ragtime," originally a book, was written by E.L. Doctorow. It was later turned into a film and then adapted as a musical by the award-winning composer/lyricist/playwright team of Stephen Flaherty, Lynn Ahrens and Terrence McNally. The Broadway musical won three Tony Awards.

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