Ragtime Audition Information
Ragtime Character Descriptions
RAGTIME is an epic musical with historic sweep that paints a nostalgic and powerful portrait of life in turn of the century America. Three distinct stories intertwine to poignantly illustrate families coping with rapid changes of early 20th century America. History's timeless contradictions of wealth and poverty, freedom and prejudice, hope and despair, and love and hate are the underpinnings of intimate interactions among Anglo-American (people of New Rochelle), African-American (people of Harlem), and European immigrants. With a score that is as diverse as the melting pot of America, RAGTIME -
• Draws upon traditional Jewish folk sounds to color the haunting music of the European immigrants,
• Borrows from Vaudevillian styles to capture the spectacle of Anglo-American upper-middle-class society,
• Utilizes Joplin and Jazz to invoke the enlivened spirit and rhythms of African-American, working class Harlem, and
· Movingly presents inspirational power-ballads with demandingly rich choral resources
Cast breakdown: a Multi-Ethnic/Multi-Racial cast of about 50+ adults/older teens, and 3 featured children, including all ages. The entire ensemble sings. (Non-singing actors may be considered for non-singing featured roles; however singers will be given preference due to the challenging choral score.) Generally minimal dance requirements, although preferable for African-American Ensemble members to be dancers.
LEAD AND FEATURED ROLES
(ages listed are based on history and/or author recommendations, and should not be taken literally)
Sarah: (lead) African-American female. Late teens-early 20's (lyric soprano; range: low G# to high F#); requires high belting
Mother: (lead) Anglo-American female. 30+ (lyric soprano; range: low G to high Eb) gentle, compassionate, optimistic; requires high belting
Young Girl (supporting) Tateh's daughter: Eastern European/Jewish Immigrant female. 8-12 (juvenile voice; range: E to Db) quiet and shy.
Sarah's Friend: (supporting) African-American female. Late teens - 30. (Gospel lyric-soprano or alto range: low G to stratosphere scat top note)
Emma Goldman (cameo - historical): Eastern European/Jewish Immigrant female/Anarchist. 40+, slight accent. (alto, range: low G# to Db on staff)
Evelyn Nesbit (cameo - historical): Anglo-American female. Vaudevillian performer. 18-25 (belter/soprano, range: middle C to Db) dancer preferred.
Coalhouse Walker, Jr: (lead) African-American male. 25-35 (baritone with strong top range; range: Ab to G, with a sustained high F#). Intense dance; pianist; proud, confident, and stubborn.
Father: (lead) Anglo-American male. 40+ (baritone; range: B to E on staff) cautious; resistant to change
Tateh: (lead) Eastern European/Jewish Immigrant male. 30+, slight accent (tenor; range: Db to high F#) intelligent, passionate, creative
Mother's Younger Brother: (supporting) Anglo-American male. 20-25+ (tenor/baritone with strong top range: B to high F#) passionate anarchist; intense and high-strung
Young Boy: (supporting) Anglo-American male. 8-12 (juvenile voice; range: E to Db on staff) precocious and curious
Grandfather (cameo) (Mother's father): Anglo-American male. 55+ (some "speak sung" lyrics, baritone) gruff & outspoken.
Harry Houdini (cameo - historical): Hungarian Immigrant male/Magician/body-builder. 30+ (tenor; range: mid. C to high G)
Booker T. Washington (cameo - historical): African-American male, distinguished. 45+ (some "speak sung" lyrics, baritone)
Henry Ford (cameo - historical): Anglo-American male. 30-45 (some "speak sung" lyrics, baritone)
JP Morgan (cameo - historical): Anglo-American male; banking mogul. 45+ (some "speak sung" lyrics, baritone)
Little Coalhouse: (cameo) Walk-on at end of show. African-American male. Age 3-4 (no spoken lines or singing)
Willie Conklin: (cameo) Fireman, racist, antagonist who leads vandalism on Coalhouse's car. Anglo-American male.
RAGTIME offers members of the three major ensemble groups multiple opportunities to play additional featured sub-groups (Factory workers, demonstrators, policemen, newsboys, reporters, bureaucrats, Coalhouse's Men, Atlantic City vacationers, etc.) and a number of individual roles with lines and some solos.
Additional individual roles (with final casting decisions possibly made during rehearsals) include:
MALE: Admiral Peary, Henson, Stanford White, Harry K. Thaw, Judge, Train Conductor, Doctor, Judge, Foreman, Whitman, Attorneys (2, 1 Anglo-American, 1 African-American)
FEMALE: Baron's Assistant, Kathleen, Brigit, Mrs. Whitstein, Welfare Official
The RAGTIME Chorus must be one of the major stars of the show. Chorus is extremely involved and active throughout the show. The three distinct ensemble groups must each produce a full and balanced choral sound.