Disguised as a two-for-one musical biography, Tin Pan Alley Rag deepens as it lengthens. The show revolves around a dreamed-up encounter between two of America’s very real great composers: Messrs. Irving Berlin and Scott Joplin. In some ways, the meeting transpires like you might expect. The two great men recount the details of unlikely rises, the backstory on revolutionary musical hits, and the pain of loss that nothing can reverse. This is a tale of the highs and the lows that make any brilliant career worth telling about.
What changes the situation is the fact that Joplin (Boatman) needs something from Berlin (Therriault). After taking the musical world by storm and accomplishing greatness, he wishes for more. Rather than continue to write ragtime, he wishes to evolve his own beast. Joplin writes an African-American opera. And he wants Mr. Berlin to back its staging. Nobody else will, but Joplin needs to see the project realized to honor his late wife, who he loved beyond all reason. [Read more…]