In this fictionalized but well-researched (much of which is printed in the program for your reading pleasure) story, young aspiring musician Julia Niebergall (Christine Polich, who also acts as vocal director) meets her idol Cora Salisbury (Jen Maren), star of the Vaudeville circuit. Well, at least a minor star, who also composes music. Cora gives Julia advice about music and life. She tries to warn her about the difficulties of a life on the road, especially for women, but Julia is undeterred. Back home (somewhere in Indiana), she and her friends May Aufderheide (Krin McMillen) and Gladys Yelvington (Tara Schaefle) write music for May's father's publishing company. Gladys soon gladly gives up music to become a wife and mother, while May attempts to do both. Julia, on the other hand, agrees with Cora that "marriage is an impediment" and focuses solely on her music. The three women make different choices, but have left a legacy of music that, thanks to this production, lives on.
|Krin McMillen, Christine Polich, and Tara Schaefle|
|Jen Maren as Cora Salisbury|
And now a few words about the cast. We all know how fabulous Jen Maren is from shows like Glensheen (which returns this summer), and she has a great presence as the old pro Cora, a bit world-weary but still with a passion to perform. The other three women are new to me and are all lovely, especially when singing in harmony. In particular, Christine Polich is a standout as the plucky Julia, with a really terrific voice, great vocal control, and a natural charm and presence.
This world premiere new musical Ragtime Women is an exciting debut for the new company Theatre Elision, which is planning five musicals in their 2017-2018 season, including one original. Keep your eye out for them (visit their website and/or follow them on Facebook).