RAGS The Musical, Park Theatre - ★★★★★ - Until February 8, 2020

Photographer: Pamela Raith.

This is an American musical for today! Hallmarks of the genre are big production numbers, a compelling story, outstanding music and performances. This production has them all! Director Bronagh Lagan and choreograper Philip Michael Thomas have done a terrific job of bringing the big Broadway feel to a very small space and having the musicians perform on stage works beautifully. The tale of Jewish immigrants coming to America at the turn of the century is a fascinating one and the epic story captures us with its clear but subtle characterisation. However, while using some old tropes like the stories of paired lovers, the show boldly offers a very 21st century version of a happy ending. The music here suggests the melting pot that was New York in those days with echoes of ragtime, klezmer street music and hints of jazz. Songs like "Greenhorns," "Three Sunny Rooms," and "Children of the Wind" become instantly memorable as do some of the performances. Carolyn Maitland as Rebecca dominates the show and is simply outstanding. Nuanced performances by Dave Willetts, Martha Kirby, Oisin Nolan-Power and the rest of the cast make it all work. A less remarked upon characteristic of the great musical is its courage to take on social issues. From Show Boat through South Pacific, the outstanding representatives of the genre have challenged us and made us think. RAGS deals with one of the hottest topics on the political scene today, and it does a remarkable job of humanising the complex issue of immigrants and immigration. This American musical brings a welcome and progressive voice to today's stage. Don't miss it!

Reviewed by J.C.

 Our Score:  ☆☆☆☆☆ 

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WHEN, WHERE, GETTING THERE:
Until February 8, 2020
Mon - Sat: 7:30 pm
Thu & Sat: 3 pm
Park Theatre
Nearest tube: Finsbury Park
https://www.parktheatre.co.uk/whats-on/rags-the-musical

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