Ragtime full of riches

DIRECTED with her own brand of panache and flair by Sally Woodfield and under the adept baton of Rob Miles, Forest Musical Productions version of Ragtime was a very assured and confident piece. It was also beautifully dressed, with some great atmospheri

DIRECTED with her own brand of panache and flair by Sally Woodfield and under the adept baton of Rob Miles, Forest Musical Productions' version of Ragtime was a very assured and confident piece.

It was also beautifully dressed, with some great atmospheric lighting by Rob Mitchell-Gears.

The show follows the fortunes of three groups of people in America not long after the turn of the last century.

Coalhouse Walker is a Harlem pianist who represents the struggles of black Americans in what is still a very racist country, while Mother is the matriarch of a Wasp family in upscale New Rochelle, New York. Tateh is a Latvian Jewish immigrant trying to make sense of a new world.


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With her sweet and wonderfully modulated singing voice, Vicky Cook was a great choice for Mother, who looks beyond the mores of her class to help Sarah, Coalhouse's girlfriend, with their baby. Gemma Knight Jones, who played Sarah, has a strong, bluesy voice and she absolutely charmed the audience with her powerful and moving rendition of Your Daddy's Son. This was also a strong acting performance.

Tony Khublall made an impressive, irrepressible Coalhouse - this is a young man with great stage presence and confidence and his performance was very engaging. And Richard Sheepwash gave a moving performance as Tateh, helped by the lovely Frenchie Hirons in a confident portrayal of his ailing daughter.

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Connor Kyle was funny and confident as Mother's Little Boy and Paul Willes gave a trademark strong performance as Father.

Sean Gillary was equally strong and confident as Younger Brother - and in fine voice, too. And I loved Malcolm Woodfield's grumbly, growling Grandfather.

Ray Johnson's Booker T Washington was excellent - clear and resolute and full of gravitas - and Martin Smith made a delightful Houdini. Mike Byrne and Scott Harris produced lively performance as Morgan and Ford and Lindsey Levison was impressively fierce as Emma Goldman.

Tribute must be paid to the many rapid costume changes. Stage manager Kate Smith did an impressive job in keeping everything on track. All in all, a great night of theatre.

- SUE LEEMAN

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