Thursday April 13, 2012 the family attended HITS Theatre’s production of Ragtime, The Musical performed at Miller Outdoor Theatre. We were quite impressed on many levels. For homeschool families, this is tailored a bit more toward the older kids. The content, length of performance, violence and language may make it unsuitable for less mature audiences. There are still a few performances scheduled at Miller Outdoor Theatre which is always free. You can’t get better than that!
Ragtime, The Musical is a glimpse into the times at the turn of the 20th century. It follows three families from vastly different backgrounds trying to forge a life in America: an upper class white family, African American family and a Jewish immigrant family. All three encounter struggles and prejudices which must be dealt with and the issues give everyone a glimpse into the undercurrent of change that is on the horizon. The story takes you on an historical journey so for those who are studying the period it will help illustrate the realities of what individuals had to endure. There is suspense, romance, fear, tragedy, injustice, comedy, drama and above all, hope. For homeschool students this is a great way to discuss some deeper issues that may have been prevalent then but still hold true today.
The acting of Ragtime, The Musical was superb. It is hard to believe that some of these actors are teenagers and younger! This is a testament to HITS Theatre and the amazing job they do teaching and mentoring. The singing was not quite as solid but still extraordinary considering the age of the performers. For us, three performers stood out: Candice D’Meza who plays Sarah, Austin Arizpe who plays Tateh and Hattie Marks who plays Evelyn Nesbit. There were no poor performances but some of the singing was shaky in areas which could be attributed to being outdoors, illness, tired or even just not entirely trained voices. Regardless, it did not detract from the overall enjoyment. The orchestra that accompanied the performers was superb.
The only real criticism we have for the performance is one I often have which is lack of information pre-performance. Ragtime is a musical in two acts with over thirty numbers. It started at 8 pm and we left the theater shortly before 11 pm. Frankly, we are not big on censorship and the content was handled well, there were no gratuitous situations, they were all appropriate but there were some explanations needed. It was not a real problem for us. For those parents who feel differently, you may want to note that there are issues of out of wedlock childbirth, violence, situations of racism including the use of the “N” word plus, due to the subject in general, it is fairly mature material. Parents should take these things into consideration when determining if Ragtime, The Musical is suitable for their kids. However, as far as we are concerned, it is definitely worth going to.
Miller Outdoor Theatre is located at 6000 Hermann Park Drive in Hermann Park, just south of the Museum of Natural Science and the Houston Garden Center. View their full calendar of FREE performances at http://milleroutdoortheatre.com/events/month/.
HITS Theatre is located at 311 W. 18th Street in the Historic Houston Heights neighborhood, northwest of downtown Houston. The offer classes and performances. View their full schedule of events online at http://www.hitstheatre.org/calendar.html.