The people called it Ragtime!

The upcoming concert production of the Tony award winning Broadway musical Ragtime, with performances on Saturday, Oct. 16, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 17, at 2 p.m. at the Fowler Center on the campus of Arkansas State University, truly is the music of something beginning: live performances from the Delta Symphony Orchestra and The Link Theatre finally beginning again.

It has been more than 18 months since either the DSO or the Link have held a live, in person, fully produced performance, and we are so incredibly grateful to be collaborating together as we share the gift of music and theater with the Northeast Arkansas community.

We are also thankful that our patrons understand the precautions being taken to protect our audience, cast, choir and orchestra from COVID-19 by requiring all participants to show proof of full vaccination or a negative test in the event that they are not eligible. A full version of the COVID-19 policy unanimously voted on by both boards can be found on each organization's website.

A sweeping musical portrait of early 20th-century America, Ragtime tells the story of three diverse families pursuing the American dream with emotion and hope bursting onto the stage like no other musical. It holds a mirror up to America showing how far we've come, yet also how far we've yet to travel.

It confronts challenging issues head on — racism, class, feminism, injustice, upward mobility. Some language and circumstances are shocking to witness, and challenge us to question if we are that shining city on a hill.

Yet, Ragtime also emphatically sings, with one of the most glorious scores ever written for the musical theater, a song of hope, a promise of what America can be, an affirmation of what is only possible in this the greatest country on earth.

I am overjoyed for our audience to hear the amazing collection of musicians and actors assembled for this production as they join together to sing this beautiful, uplifting, inspiring American story.

Matt Cavenaugh

president, The Link Theatre Company

board member, Delta Symphony Orchestra