Ragtime is a Broadway musical with book by Terrence McNally, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, and music by Stephen Flaherty. The musical is based on the 1975 novel Ragtime by E. L. Doctorow.
The musical tried out in Toronto and Los Angeles, and opened on Broadway on January 18, 1998.
It tells the story of three groups in America, represented by Coalhouse Walker, a Harlem musician; Mother, the matriarch of a WASP family in New Rochelle, NY; and Tateh, a Latvian Jewish immigrant. Historical figures such as Houdini, Evelyn Nesbit, Booker T. Washington, J. P. Morgan, Henry Ford, Stanford White, Harry K. Thaw, Admiral Peary, Matthew Henson, and Emma Goldman also appear. The music includes marches, cakewalks, gospel, and ragtime. The show is mostly sung-through, with most of the story told through song, and there is very little spoken dialogue.
Ragtime received mixed reviews; some considered the show to be one of the greatest American musicals ever written while others felt the dazzling production (with an $11 million budget, including fireworks and a working Model T) overshadowed problems in the script. Nonetheless, it led the Tony Award with 12 Tony Awards nominations in 1998, and was considered the front runner for the coveted Tony Award for Best Musical, however, was upset by Disney's The Lion King. Ths musical walked away with four Tonys for Best Featured Actress (Audra McDonald), Original Score, Book, and Orchestrations (William David Brohn).