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Monday, October 02, 2023

Ragtime begins national tour at the Phillips Center

Eleven days before their first performance, the actors arrived at the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.

The 28 actors and directors arrived at the Phillips Center not only to practice for their performances of the musical "Ragtime" on Thursday and Friday, but also to prepare for a series of performances across the country.

The performances marked the beginning of a national tour for "Ragtime," a musical about racial tensions in the early 20th century.

Josh Walden, the associate director/choreographer, said the play was revived because the racial turbulence in the play mirrors current events in the U.S.

"I think the most poignant thing is thinking about the climate of our country right now... and looking at how things haven’t greatly changed. And this lesson is so important, I think, for us to teach," he said.

The musical will be performed in 96 cities until the end of June 2016, Walden said. It was stripped down from its original opera-level production to a set that can be transported in two trucks.

UF was approached for the premiere performance due to UF’s reputation in the production world of being able to help tours build their shows, said Amy Douglas, the director of marketing and communications for UF Performing Arts.

"It hits home with some things that are going on today," said Kelsey Gwin, 20, a UF biology and French and francophone studies junior who watched the show Friday. "But at the end of the day, it shows that we have come a long way."

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