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THE TIN PAN ALLEY RAG in Daily News

Roundabout Theatre Company’s THE TIN PAN ALLEY RAG is currently playing at the Laura Pels Theatre and opens officially on Tuesday, July 14th.   

Daily News

July 1, 2009

‘The Tin Pan Alley Rag’ is tale of Broadway titans Irving Berlin and Scott Joplin

By Joe Dziemianowicz

Years before he wrote “God Bless America” – an anthem that will be on frequent rotation during July 4 festivities – Irving Berlin was already a household name, thanks in large part to “Alexander’s Ragtime Band.”

In 1911, more than a million copies of the sheet music for that happy hummable were sold, making Berlin even richer and more famous than he already was. He was 23.

“The Tin Pan Alley Rag,” an Off-Broadway play by Mark Saltzman, is set four years after “Alexander” debuted and puts Berlin face to face with another iconic composer, Scott Joplin, who’s known as the King of Ragtime.

The drama imagines a meeting between Berlin (Michael Therriault) and Joplin (Michael Boatman, of “Spin City”) in 1915, as Joplin was struggling to raise funds to produce his opera “Treemonisha.”

The composers had business agents in the same building in New York City, so the setup isn’t so far-fetched. The clash of the titans, however, was ripe for drama.

Here were two big egos, says Saltzman. And big differences. Joplin, the son of a former slave, was 19 years older and schooled at a conservatory. Berlin, a Russian immigrant, couldn’t read music.

 Click here to read the full article.

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