Complete casting has been announced for the latest incarnation of Rags, the short-lived 1986 Broadway musical about the Jewish-European immigrant experience in America at the turn of the century, which will debut October 6 at Goodspeed Musicals.
Written by composer Charles Strouse (Annie), lyricist Stephen Schwartz (Wicked), and late Fiddler book writer Joseph Stein, the original Broadway production of Rags ran for only 22 performances, but is remembered for its sweeping, Tony-nominated score, which was later preserved on a 1991 studio cast album.
The Goodspeed production will premiere a new version of the show’s book, which David Thompson (The Scottsboro Boys, Prince of Broadway, Steel Pier) has adapted from Stein’s original.
Samantha Massell, who played Hodel in the 2015 Broadway revival of Fiddler on the Roof, will star in the central role of Rebecca Hershkowitz, with Christian Michael Camporin (Finding Neverland) as her son David.
The cast also features Sean MacLaughlin as Sal Russo, Sara Kapner as Bella Cohen, Adam Heller as Avram Cohen, Mitch Greenberg as Jack Blumberg, Emily Zacharias as Anna Blumberg, Lori Wilner as Rachel Brodsky, David Harris as Max Bronfman, Nathan Salstone as Ben Levitowitz, as well as JD Daw, Ellie Fishman, Danny Lindgren, Sarah Solie, Jeff Williams, Catalina Gaglioti, Giovanni DiGabriele, and Gordon Beck.
Directed by Rob Ruggiero, Rags will officially open October 25 for a run through December 10 in East Haddam, Connecticut.
The show’s writers have reunited on several occasions in the 30 years since Rags premiered to test new versions of the script and score. A revised version returned Off-Broadway in 1991 at the American Jewish Theatre, while other high-profile adaptations were seen at the Coconut Grove Playhouse and Paper Mill Playhouse in 1999. Roundabout Theatre Company workshopped another version of the show in 2014, with Jessie Mueller as Rebecca.
The idea for Rags was born out of numerous requests Stein received to write a sequel to his 1964 hit Fiddler on the Roof. A first-generation American whose parents had immigrated to America, Stein drew on stories his father told him to conceive of the musical that follows a young mother and her son who arrive in Manhattan’s Lower East Side at the turn of the century.
Despite its brief run, Rags received five Tony Award nominations, including Best Book, Best Score, and Best Musical. It holds the record for the Best Musical Tony nominee with the fewest regular performances, having played 18 previews and 4 regular performances.
Stand-outs from the score include “Children of the Wind,” “Brand New World,” “Yankee Boy,” “Blame It On the Summer Night,” “Dancing With the Fools” and the title song. Despite its brief run, Rags earned seven Tony Award nominations, including Best Musical, Best Book and Best Score.