The University of Southern Mississippi’s upcoming production of “Ragtime, The Musical” represents the largest scale performance to ever hit the university main stage.
Arranged as part of the university’s yearlong Centennial celebration, the epic musical debuts at 7:30 p.m. on March 4 in the Mannoni Performing Arts Center on the Hattiesburg campus.
Based on the classic E.L. Doctorow novel, “Ragtime” is a collaborative production by the Southern Miss School of Music and Department of Theatre and Dance. This sweeping play, set in the volatile and diverse melting pot of New York at the turn of the 20th century, features a lively cast of 36 and a grand 25-piece Symphony Orchestra.
“We were looking for something that’s huge in scale in all ways,” said Dr. Michael Miles, conductor. “This play fits the bill, from the size of the cast to the scenery and sets, to the amount of music, to the size of the orchestra. For the Centennial, I think we wanted to pick something that would present challenges. There’s twice as much music in this show as any show I’ve ever conducted.”
This Tony Award-winning epic parallels in scale to other contemporary hits like “Phantom of the Opera” and “Les Miserables.”
The story of “Ragtime” weaves together three distinctly American stories – an upper-class family from of New Rochelle, a burgeoning community from Harlem and a determined group of Jewish immigrants. This dynamic and volatile combination finds ragtime music as its soundtrack. The production features original music by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens.
Director Robin Carr describes the play as an epic adventure. “When we were looking at productions to choose we were looking at the strengths of both departments and students,” said Carr. “This is a piece that neither department would have been able to pull off on their own.”
Featuring one of the largest-scale sets Hattiesburg audiences have ever seen, hundreds of period costumes, and a myriad of technical elements that required numerous upgrades to the auditorium, faculty, staff and students have been at work for months preparing for the show.
“Student participating in this production are excited to have this performance opportunity. “This is a large cast where every person has a major part to play, sometimes five or six parts,” said music director Jennifer Hart.
Tickets are $18 for adults; $15 for faculty, staff, seniors and military and $10 for students. For information call 601-266-5418 or visit www.southernmisstickets.com
About The University of Southern Mississippi
The University of Southern Mississippi, founded in 1910, is a comprehensive doctoral and research-extensive university fulfilling its mission of being a leading university in engaging and empowering individuals to transform lives and communities. In a tradition of leadership for student development, Southern Miss is educating a 21st century work force providing intellectual capital, cultural enrichment and innovation to Mississippi and the world. Southern Miss is located in Hattiesburg, Miss., with an additional campus and teaching and research sites on the Mississippi Gulf Coast; further information is found at www.usm.edu.