October 28 – November 6, 2011
at Irving Arts Center’s Carpenter Hall
Lyric Stage continues its exciting 19th season with the world premiere of the newly revised RAGS, October 28 through November 6 at the Irving Arts Center’s Carpenter Performance Hall. This epic and unforgettable musical, set in turn-of-the-century New York at the height of the great wave of Eastern Europeans flooding into America, tells the story of five Jewish immigrants and their struggle to make a better life for themselves. The production runs October 28 through November 6, 2011 and performances are in the Irving Arts Center’s Carpenter Performance Hall.
RAGS, with book by Joseph Stein (FIDDLER ON THE ROOF), music by Charles Strouse (ANNIE) and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz (WICKED), opened at Broadway’s Mark Hellinger Theater on August 21, 1986 and was nominated for five Tony Awards. The Boston Herald called it, “a beautiful and stirring experience…RAGS has a deeply felt story, a rich and varied score and haunting lyrics.” Lyric Stage is proud to present the premiere of Joseph Stein’s new book, completed just before his death last fall, with a full-scale, 35-piece orchestra.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, a critical moment in both this production and the nation’s history. Resulting in the death of 146 garment workers, the Triangle Fire was the single deadliest industrial disaster in the history of New York City. Most of the victims were young Jewish and Italian immigrant women, with the youngest victims only 14 years old. The fire led to groundbreaking safety legislation for factory workers, and Lyric Stage is proud to partner with the Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition in honoring the victims of this tragedy and the powerful legacy they left behind.
It is no secret to those who know the creators of this show that they often felt this story never got the audience it deserved. After attending the Lyric Stage production of BYE BYE BIRDIE in 2010, composer Charles Strouse personally approached Lyric Stage Founding Producer Steven Jones and asked if he would premiere a newly revised version of RAGS. After reading Stein’s new book, Jones knew immediately that Lyric Stage would be honored to produce this musical tour de force. Of the collaboration Strouse said, “Joe Stein, before he died, worked long and earnestly on a re-write of ‘RAGS’ – and I, with him. He loved my music as I have loved Steven Schwartz’s lyrics – as much as anything all of us had ever done. The vagaries of the commercial theater being what they are (and a million composers might echo this from the grave) RAGS had been consigned to the list of ‘also-rans.’ I still think of it as some of the best work we have ever done – a heartfelt tribute to our great country. How then to thank Steven Jones and Lyric Stage for giving us back our vision – I don’t know – but these words are a small attempt.”
Cheryl Denson will direct and Lyric Stage Music Director Jay Dias will conduct the 35 piece Lyric Stage Orchestra. The cast includes Amanda Passanante (Rebecca), Kristin Dausch (Bella), Jonathan Bragg (Ben), Lois Sonnier Hart (Rachel), Chet Monday (David), Shane Peterman (Nathan), Brian Hathaway (Saul), Jackie Kemp (Avram), Mikey Abrams, Stephen Bates, Sahara Glasener-Boles, Brendan Cyrus, Randy Dobbs, Michelle Foard, Emily Ford, Carlos Gomez, Tom Grugle, Martin Guerra, Amber Guest, Alan Hanna, Maranda Harrison, Joseph Holt, Isaac Jarrell, Morgan Mabry Mason, Lily Monday, Ashton Morales, Preston Pickett, Diane Powell, Mary Margaret Pyeatt, Daniel Saroni, Max Swarner, Scott Taylor, Keith Warren and Lucia Welch.
RAGS will run October 28 through November 6, 2011. Performances are in the Irving Arts Center’s Carpenter Performance Hall, 3333 N. MacArthur Blvd. Performances are October 28, 29, November 3, 4, 5 @ 8:00 PM and October 30 & November 6 @ 2:30 PM.