Ragtime to portray 1900s America


Francisco Avila

(Left to right): AJ Williams, Abraham Godina, Mykal Drayton, and Mr. William Spakowski are working diligently to prepare for the upcoming musical Ragtime.

Rehearsals have begun, production is underway, and it’s only a month until the performance off Mount Carmel’s Spring musical, Ragtime.

Ragtime is a story of America in the early 1900s, so it’s kind of the tail end of the industrial revolution and it’s a time of great change in the United States which is what the show really tries to portray,” says Mount Carmel Music Director William Spakowski.

In this musical there are three different storylines about change: a white family is readjusting to what it means to be upper class in this country; an immigrant family is striving for the American dream; and a young African-American family is evaluating where their dream stands in the early 1900’s.

“While times have changed, I think there are certain elements of this show that reflect a lot of the same challenges facing marginalized groups in our country today,” says Spakowski.

Spakowski came up with the idea of producing this musical because it was one of his favorite shows as a kid, and because “there are honestly very few high schools that can do it due to the racial undertones of the show.  We are one of the few high schools that can correctly represent the characters, because of the diversity of Mount Carmel.”

Spakowski noted that this year’s performers face a certain amount of pressure, due to the success of last year’s musical, Newsies.

”Newsies, I think, exceeded all expectations – for me personally, for the students (who performed), and for anybody that came and saw it.  Yes, there is a little bit of pressure in trying to repeat that and exceed that this year.”

Nevertheless, Spakowski is confident about this year’s effort.

“I think if we get the story right then the story and the music will do it for us.”

Senior Abraham Godina, who is part of the tech crew working the sound board, agrees.

“I think that the musical is going to be a success. Last year’s musical was great. (But) this year’s  actors are working hard and Mr. Spakowski is doing a good job on the production of the musical.“

Sophomore AJ Williams will be sharing one of the main roles (Coalhouse) with his classmate Lance Mahome.  He’s happy with the progress of rehearsals, and agrees that the musical has an important message.

“It’s a good musical.  With the cast we have behind us this year, we’re very close to reaching what we accomplished last year.  The way we are doing it is going to have a big impact for the people who come to see it.”

In addition to Williams and Mahome, this year’s cast members include Jabril McGee as Tate, Joe Carter as Younger Brother, Charlie Zwick as Father, and Andre Johnson as Booker T. Washington.

Ragtime will be performed in the Student Center, and tickets cost $10. The show will be performed on March 26 and 27, at 7:30 p.m., and on Sunday, March 28 at 1:00 p.m.