Piedmont Opera partners with Jackie Alexander on production of Broadway musical ‘Ragtime’

Piedmont Opera partners with Jackie Alexander on production  of Broadway musical ‘Ragtime’
March 03
09:08 2022

The Piedmont Opera has partnered with Jackie Alexander, artistic director of the NC Black Repertory Company (NCBRC) to create an all-new production of the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, Ragtime, which looks to capture the American experience of three different people from very different backgrounds. 

Based on the novel of the same name by E.L. Doctrow, the musical tells the story of three families trying to find their way during the turn of the twentieth century in New York City.  Each family is struggling with the changing cultural climate in America and is facing the promise of hope and new beginnings in the midst of prejudice and bigotry. A stifled upper-class wife, a determined Jewish immigrant, and a daring young Harlem musician are each united by their courage, compassion, and belief in the promise of the future. Together, they confront history’s timeless contradictions of wealth and poverty, freedom and prejudice, hope and despair … and what it means to live in America. 

Alexander, who has served as artistic director of the NCBRC and producer of the National Black Theatre Festival since 2016, said when he got the call from Piedmont Opera, he was excited to lead the production. He said although the play is set in 1906, many of the issues addressed in the play are still relevant today. 

“It’s a great show. It’s a massive show. There’s about 60 people in the cast, but the big thing about this show is how relevant the issues are that they deal with in the play,” he said. “It deals with racism, quality of life for immigrants, police brutality, the world’s obsession with celebrities, women’s rights. If you turn on the news, those are the things that are being discussed every single day and this story is set over 100 years ago. That’s what really attracted me to the piece.”

Alexander said he has been working on developing the show for a few months and the cast got together for the first time last week. He said while it is challenging working with such a large cast in the middle of a pandemic, this is what people need. 

“It’s a challenging piece, but it’s a beautiful piece and it’s the right piece to do right now. Art should speak to what’s going on in society and I can’t think of a better piece that speaks to what’s going on today,” Alexander said. 

In a press release, James Albritten, general director of the Piedmont Opera, said, “Ragtime is the story we need to tell at this point in our nation’s history and is easily one of the most powerful shows ever written for the stage.” 

The Piedmont Opera’s production of Ragtime will be staged March 18 at 8 p.m., March 20 at 2 p.m., and March 22 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are on sale and prices range from $22-$98. Visit for more information.

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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