SUNY Potsdam Presents Tony Award Winning Musical 'Ragtime'


From left, Ian Nieboer plays Booker T. Washington and ChaRon Brabham portrays a member of the Harlem ensemble in “Ragtime,” premiering at SUNY Potsdam on Nov. 14.

SUNY Potsdam's Department of Theatre and Dance and the Crane Opera Ensemble and Orchestra have partnered for their triennial collaboration, with the upcoming production of the Tony Award-winning musical, "Ragtime," running from Nov. 14 to 17.

The production brings together a cast and crew of students and draws on the expertise of faculty from both the Department of Theatre and Dance and from The Crane School of Music.

"Ragtime is our fifth collaborative musical for the program, and we are thrilled to be working on such a challenging piece that honors our growing diversity on campus," said director Dr. Carleen Graham, who leads the Crane Opera Ensemble.

"Ragtime" was originally a bestselling 1975 historical fiction novel by E.L. Doctorow that was transformed into a moving musical in 1996. This work had countless Tony nominations and won in the categories of "Best Book of a Novel," "Best Original Score," "Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical" (for Audra McDonald) and "Best Orchestration." "Ragtime" was also nominated for 13 Drama Desk Awards, ultimately winning five.

"Ragtime" tells the story of three groups in the United States in the early 20th century: African Americans, upper-class suburbanites from New Rochelle, N.Y., and European immigrants. Their lives are forever changed by the circumstances that bring them together. Like the novel, the plot is interlaced with historical figures, including Henry Ford, J.P. Morgan, Emma Goldman, Evelyn Nesbit, Harry Houdini and Booker T. Washington.

Actors Equity guest artist Justin Lee Miller will be in residency on campus for the "Ragtime" run, playing the starring role of Coalhouse Walker Jr.

SUNY Potsdam students make up the rest of the cast, along with several local actors. North Country community members involved in this production include Sylvain Foisy (Edgar); Luca Pecora (Little Girl); Eric, Daniel, and Mark Severtson (Newsboys), and Bruce Brownlee (Grandfather).

The "Ragtime" personnel also includes: director Carleen Graham, music director Kirk Severtson, vocal coach François Germain, choreographer Robin Collen, lighting designer Tonry Lathroum, assistant music director Ryan McNeil, scenic designer Todd Canedy, technical director Jeff Reeder, costume designer Janet Sussman, master electrician Josh Poston, assistant costume designer Susan Rosello, costume shop manager Alexis Foster, assistant costume shop manager Tilly Adams, production stage manager Katherine Yip, assistant stage managers Kate Bullock and Morgan Decker, and rehearsal pianists Nicholas Roehler and Alyssa Filardo.

The SUNY Potsdam production of "Ragtime" will be presented at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Nov. 14 to Nov. 16, with a matinee at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 17. All performances will be offered in the Sara M. Snell Music Theater at SUNY Potsdam's Crane School of Music.

Ticket prices are $12 for adults and $8 for SUNY Potsdam students, faculty and staff. Tickets may be purchased by visiting the Community Performance Series Box Office, located in the lobby of Snell Theater at SUNY Potsdam's Crane School of Music, or at Northern Music & Video in downtown Potsdam. Tickets can also be purchased by calling (315) 267-2277 or visiting

About the Department of Theatre & Dance:

From directing, choreographing, acting and dancing to designing and technical work, theatre and dance are highly collaborative art forms at SUNY Potsdam. Students and professionals engage in creative problem solving requiring the setting and meeting of long-term goals and the analysis and understanding movement and dramatic literature. The College's $48 million Performing Arts Center, which is nearing completion, will be home to the Department of Theatre and Dance starting in January 2014. For more information, visit 

About the Crane Opera Ensemble:

The award-winning Crane Opera Ensemble produces two fully staged productions each year—one with orchestra and one with a chamber instrumental group or piano. The ensemble also enjoys a collaborative relationship with the Department of Theatre and Dance, co-producing a musical every three years. Its opera education outreach program has served over 4,000 North Country school children, many experiencing opera for the first time. The ensemble's 2011 production of "Amahl & the Night Visitors" was the first place winner of The American Prize in Operatic Performance and second place in the National Opera Association's annual Collegiate Production Competition (Division 3). The 2010 production of "L'Enfant et les Sortilèges" was also the first place winner of the American Prize.

For more information, visit

Founded in 1816, The State University of New York at Potsdam is one of only three arts campuses in the entire SUNY system. SUNY Potsdam's arts curriculum offers the full palette: music, theatre, dance, fine arts and creative writing. No matter the discipline, people from all backgrounds can find their creative compass at Potsdam, with myriad arts immersion experiences available for both campus and community.