RAGS The Musical opened on Broadway in 1986, receiving Tony Award nominations including Best Musical. With music written by Charles Strouse (Annie), lyrics by Stephen Schwartz (Wicked), and a book by Joseph Stein (Fiddler on the Roof), it is surprising that the show is only now having its UK premiere. This one night charity gala in aid of the charity CENTREPOINT, the UK’s leading charity for homeless young people, took place last night at London’s Lyric Theatre.
Telling the tale of a group of Jewish immigrants as they arrive to start a new life in America, RAGS The Musical is a story of love, loss and hope. Featuring a score celebrating the multicultural music which was filling the streets on New York in 1910. It’s an interesting subject for a musical, certainly not the kind of thing I would expect to see in the West End but it was good. It had all the ingredients of a great show but somehow felt a little watered down. Like it was a first draft of a musical that had never really been polished up and finished properly.
Caroline Sheen lit up the stage and was perfectly cast in the role of Rebecca but none of the other characters really seemed to have much going for them and were slightly forgettable.
The music in the show has a multicultural element with a strong jazz and ragtime style and influences from Klesmer, Irish folk, American honky-tonk, Greek and Middle Eastern music.
Maureen Lipman played the role of the narrator. Sat up in a box, reading the script to the audience and introducing the scenes before they unfolded on stage. The feeling was detracted somewhat from what she was saying, as it was being read. I know this was just a one night charity concert but if she had learnt the lines and portrayed them with conviction, it could have been much more impactful.
Overall I really did enjoy Rags. It was a toe tapping, easy to watch show that didn’t drag on. The show was perfectly suited to a one night only performance as I don’t think it would have a huge appeal to people for a longer run somewhere. As the night was raising money for Centrepoint, it would have been nice if someone from the charity spent a couple of minutes talking about the charity at the end of the show.
A rare Broadway musical, nicely brought to the stage by Aria Entertainment and Knockhardy Productions.
Reviewed by West End Wilma