by Mike Hoban
‘Ragtime’ – Based on a novel written by E. L. Doctorow. Book by Terrence McNally, Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, and Music by Stephen Flaherty. Directed by Seth Sklar-Heyn; Scenic Design by Tim Mackabee; Lighting Design by Richard Latta; Sound Design by Kevin Heard. Costumes based on original designs by Santo Loquasto and Coordinated by Molly Walz. Music Direction by Jeffrey Campos; Choreography by Jesse Robb. Presented by the Ogunquit Playhouse, 102 Main St (Rte 1), Ogunquit, ME through August 26.
Towards the end of the second act of “Ragtime”, now being given an artistically brilliant and emotionally unsettling staging at the Ogunquit Playhouse, Kirsten Scott (as Mother) delivers a breathtaking version of one of the Tony Award-winning musical’s standout numbers, “Back to Before”. The final line, “We can never go back to before,” refers not only to her transformation from subservient wife to self-actualized woman, but also to the larger issues that were changing (for the better) at the turn of the 20th century, such as the strengthening labor and woman suffrage movements, as well as the notion that “negroes” and immigrants might actually be people too.