I may have fallen more in love with the music of Charles Strouse, it may get dangerous. This may have been the most exciting week for me so far in working with Mr. Charles Strouse. It was the first time that I was really able to experience the process of professional theatre. In the late 80’s, Charles co-wrote the musical Rags with Stephen Schwartz and Joseph Stein. Rags, tells the story of Russian-Jewish immigrants trying to find a life for themselves and their families in this brand new world. Struggling with difficult rejections and tragic events, they are led to question if New York City was worth leaving their homelands.
On Tuesday, Charles and I tentatively ventured into bustle of Time Square. Having been in New York for a couple of months, I have learned to only go to Time Square when it is absolutely necessary. There are so many people that it can be extremely overwhelming at times, especially at night…and with the mixture of heat, noise and smells. Let’s just say that if you like your space, stay in good-ol’ North Carolina. Although it is a scary place, we knew that the trek over would be well worth it. The Roundabout Theatre Company had spent the previous week preparing a workshop of Rags to present to potential investors and creative team.
As a sat watching this staged reading, I could feel a complete mix of emotions towards this beautiful musical. Yes, I might be a little biased, but I truly believe that the majestic American music of Mr. Strouse could sell tickets on its own accord. Yet, the fact that the eloquent lyrics of Stephen Schwartz (in case you were wondering, that’s the man that wrote a little show called Wicked) makes the music even better. Any time Jessie Mueller or Josh Young opened their mouths to sing, my heart melted, I’m pretty sure that by the end of the workshop I was simply a puddle on the floor. While I was so blissful watching Rags, I was also so torn and confused as to why so much of Charles’ music is left unheard. I believe that this show is just as wonderful as Annie and Bye-Bye Birdie, if not better. It really troubled me that his rolling melodies are virtually unknown to so many theatre-goers. He is one of the greats, and I just wish more people were aware of his brilliance. So if you are this far in my blog entry, and if you get some time out of your day, please listen to some of his music. I promise will be stuck in your head for days. So watch out Broadway, you may have a new hit on your hands.