March 2014

Ragtime Meet The Cast – Brittney Johnson


Brittney is thrilled to be a part of this beautiful production. Brittney was recently seen in the National Tour of Les Miserables where she understudied Eponine. She also understudied the role in the Mirvish Production of Les Miserables in Toronto. Favorite credits include: Hair, Two Gentleman of Verona, and The Who’s Tommy. Brittney is a graduate of NYU Tisch School of the Arts and a proud Member of Actor’s Equity.




A beautiful and inspiring production lights up the stage at the WBT.

Ragtime’ at Westchester Broadway Theatre – My Review

A beautiful and inspiring production lights up the stage at the WBT.

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Standing Ovation Studios of Armonk is staging its largest production at the Westchester Broadway Theatre in Elmsford NY with Ragtime.  The Tony Award winning epic musical happens to be set in Westchester’s own New Rochelle, as well as Harlem, Tin Pan Alley, and the lower East Side. It is based on the novel by E.L. Doctorow. The intricate musical portrait of three seemingly unconnected families in early 20th century America is directed by John Fanelli with musical direction by Dan Kazemi.

“Between its powerful and varied musical score, large cast across three ethnic groups, set designs that include a working Model-T automobile, and intricate story anchored to historical events and figures of its time, we are raising the bar for our local audiences. It is both exciting and challenging,” observes Mr. Fanelli.

Ragtime features a cast of 40 including NYC, national and local talent, yet there is not one performer that doesn’t rise to the challenge. The sweeping bigger than life choruses, including “Till We Reach That Day” that closes the first act and the title song that is the prologue, are beautifully done. The large ensemble is made up of very strong singers and dancers that support the lead characters with precision in an impressive number of subgroups. The ever-changing set designed by Steve Loftus sets the scene without overpowering the incredibly appropriate and charming costumes by Gail Baldoni and hair designed by Shannon Harrington. The color palette for each family was clear. Lighting by John Flangan was superb, but at the official opening night there were some sound issues that still need to be worked out. For the most part, the sound worked well enough so that the singers didn’t have to strain.

Three young men, Grant Albright, Jeremy Michael Lanuti and Chase O’Brien, share the role of the Little Boy and I think it was Mr. Albright that did a fine job at the official opening night performance.  Three young ladies, Julia Grace Gold, Ellie Leibner, and Molly Perrine, share the role of the Little Girl and Ms. Leibner is my guess of which actress we got to see. There was a cameo appearance by the adorable almost three year old Elijah Winston McKenzie as Coalhouse Walker III; he covered his ear as the company singing the rousing epilogue proved a little loud for him.

There are historical personalities woven into the tale, including Booker T. Washington (Antoine L. Smith,) Harry Houdini (Joey Barreiro,) and Stanford White (Evan Mayer.) Nadine Zahr was strong in the role of Emma Goldman. Cali LaSpina (Bet in Oliver!)of Scarsdale played Evelyn Nesbit while Todd Ritch (The Artful Dodger in Oliver!)  returns to the WBT stage as Mother’s Younger Brother. Michael Douglass was a wry Grandfather. Victoria Lauzun was a shining Mother and Craig Waletzko commanded the role of  Father.

The immigrant Tateh was played by Joey Sanzaro of Pleasantville; his beautiful tenor voice filled this large space. Brittney Johnson was amazing as Sarah and Fatye of Dobbs Ferry matched her talent as Coalhouse Walker Jr. Another fine singer was ensemble and Equity member Raena White as Sarah’s friend.

I had seen the touring company of Ragtime at the Shubert in New Haven many, many years ago, and I must admit that the only thing I remember of the show was the three distinct groups moving together around the stage during the prologue. As a result, it was as if this was a new show for me. The music by Stephen Flaherty with lyrics by Lyn Ahrens is inspiring and the book by Terrence McNally is riveting. My companion fell in love with the ragtime music and absolutely loved the show.

The excellent three course dinners on the menu included two fish choices as well as eggplant parmigiana. I enjoyed broiled fillet of sole and my teen in the tux loved his roasted pork with sage and pearl onions. The show special entrees added especially for this show included jerk chicken and parmesan encrusted tilapia.

Ragtime runs through May 4th, Thursday through Sunday evenings and Thursday and Sunday matinees. A special ticket price of $67 plus tax is offered for all performances with additional discounts for seniors, children and groups on some performances. Tickets include the show, a three-course meal and parking. Students with a student ID may also purchase a student rush ticket 15 minutes prior to curtain time for $20, if seats are available. Student rush tickets are for the performance only, do not include lunch/dinner, and calling the theater for availability is advised.

Located at One Broadway Plaza in Elmsford, the Westchester Broadway Theatre is minutes from I-287, the Saw Mill Parkway and the Sprain Brook Parkway. It takes about 90 minutes to get there via I-84 from the Waterbury area.  WBT is the longest running year-round professional equity theatre in the state of New York. For more information about Ragtime, or call 914-592-2222.

The Musical of the Century! WBT Ragtime revival is The Rage


Read the latest review for Ragtime The Musical at The Westchester Broadway Theatre.


White Plains CitizeNetReporter

I have been reviewing shows at the Westchester Broadway Theatre for 14 years.

The Standing Ovations Studios rambunctious, irreverent, in-your-face overwhelmer of a revival of the 1998 musical Ragtime , that officially opened Friday night in Elmsford is the best production WBT has ever presented that I have seen. Easily it is the most involving and emotionally connecting.

Ragtime gives  theatre goers all this top-of-the-line 40-member cast has—right from the anthemRagtime .  The anthem  I quite above   introduces the colors of America at the turn of the 19thcentury from white New Rochelle residents lofting tennis balls  to immigrants from Latvia, Ireland,and Blacks up from the south from the Robber Barons and architects of America’s success to  all seeking success in America.

It never lets up on the audience from its hour and 20 minute first act to its 55 minute second act at rolls like an express train of emotions…it overwhelms with 32 songs—by the second time Broadway composing team of Composer Stephen Flaherty and lyricist Lynn Ahrens who executed a 4-song  audition score for original producer Harold Prince and beat out 7 other  4-song writing teams to win the task of writing this score. The score won a TONY as Best Original Musical Score in 1998. Their first hit was Once On an Island in 1990, then the musical score for the Disney movie Anastasia, followed by their winning the competition to compose Ragtime.   Their latest work, Rocky, The Musical premiers next Friday in New York City.