Be Part of an ACT Production

We want you! The Argenta Community Theater exists to provide dramatic storytelling that illuminates our collective human journey. We are a community theater that welcomes people of all ages and backgrounds.

All auditions will take place at:

Argenta Community Theater
405 Main St
North Little Rock, AR 72114


RAGTIME  is a musical with a book by Terrence McNally, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, and music by Stephen Flaherty. The music includes marches, cakewalks, gospel and ragtime.  Based on the  1975 novel by E. L. Doctorow, Ragtime tells the story of three groups in the United States in the early 20th century: African Americans, represented by Coalhouse Walker Jr., a Harlem musician; upper-class suburbanites, represented by Mother, the matriarch of a white upper-class family in New Rochelle, New York; and Eastern European immigrants, represented by Tateh, a Jewish immigrant from Latvia.  Historical figures are represented in the stories, including: Harry Houdini, Evelyn Nesbit, Booker T. Washington, J. P. Morgan, Henry Ford, Stanford White, Harry Kendall Thaw, Admiral Peary, Matthew Henson, and Emma Goldman. Ragtime led the 1998 Tony Awards with thirteen nominations. It won awards for Best Featured Actress (Audra McDonald), Original Score, Book, and Orchestrations.  Ragtime was also made into a 1981 film with James Cagney, Brad Dourif, Pat O’Brien, Mary Steenburgen, Mandy Patinkin, Howard Rollins and many other award-winning actors. It was nominated for 8 Academy Awards.

Production Department Heads

Director: Vincent Insalaco

Choreographer: Case Dillard

Vocal Directors: Karen Q. Clark and Claire Rhodes

Music Director: Ron Hall

Audition and Rehearsal Pianist: Becky Goins

Technical Director: Sara Cooke

Costume Designer: Shelly Hall

Stage Manager: Maggie Simpson

Lighting Designer: Dena Kimberling

Photography and Social Media: Warren McCullough

Prop Master: Lauren Nicholas

Set Construction: Jimi Brewi

ACT’s Executive Director: Laura Grimes

Audition Information

Auditions: Sunday, October 27, 2019 from 2 PM – 6 PM

All Auditions will be held at the Argenta Community Theater, 405 Main Street, NLR

Performances: February 18-29, 2020

Rehearsals will begin in mid-January. A complete schedule will be sent out via email before rehearsals begin.

All persons interested should email for an audition appointment; however, walk-ins will also be welcome.

Audition Notes

*Auditions are open to all genders, races and ethnicities; see character breakdowns for more specific information. Note that age is only a range and actors are often cast that are younger or older depending on their audition.

*All ethnicities are encouraged to audition.

*All roles require some singing.

*Sides for cold readings will be available at auditions.

*Please be ready to perform 16 bars of a song that showcases your vocal range. Music can be performed from the actual show, but is not necessary. However, it should have the same feel as music from the production.

*There will also be a dance call at the audition. (Don’t stress, this is not a dance-heavy show.)

Please note that costumes are designed by ACT Costumer, Shelly Hall, and measurements will be taken at auditions regardless of if you are cast. If you have a current measurement form from a recent production, please bring a copy with you. 

Character Breakdown

Character Descriptions:



COALHOUSE WALKER JR., Male, Baritone, Mid 20s to Mid 30s

Although our story is told through the chance interactions of a number of historical figures and fictional characters at the turn of the 20th Century, Coalhouse is truly the driving engine behind it all. However, internally, he also reflects the unbridled rage experienced by vast numbers of African Americans at the hands of an oft unjust society that was America in this era. Even so, he controls and channels this rage into a highly calculated, systematic approach to his own brand of justice. The actor who seeks to fill this role must exhibit polish, charisma, intelligence, and strength. Coalhouse is a very intricately written character. While many may not condone his actions, most would certainly concede the challenges he faces.

BOOKER T. WASHINGTON, Male, Baritone, Late 30s to late 40s

One of Ragtime’s historical figures comes to life. Washington strives to embody and provide the voice of restraint and wisdom for his people in the face the injustices and unimaginably trying circumstances they face. In speech and demeanor, his character very much mirrors that of Coalhouse. But that’s where the similarities end. Washington should be portrayed as polished, educated, and emblematic of the actual man he was. He delivers passionate speeches. He means to sway the direction his people should take in the struggle for racial justice and equality. He must speak with great conviction and authority.

SARAH, Female, Mezzo-Soprano, 18 – 25 years

She’s got to be quite an amazing young woman. Her death gives rise to the transformation within Coalhouse that leads to a devastating effect. She is uniquely strong-willed for her age and race in this time period. Although the exact circumstances of Coalhouse’s mistreatment of her remain a mystery, we are able to piece together the basic narrative. Regardless, Coalhouse makes it his unwavering mission to regain her affection, which he ultimately succeeds in doing. Sadly, their renewed life and love affair is short-lived. In the brief period between their reunion and her death, they display an amazingly deep, rare, and passionate sense of connection, idealism and true love.

TATEH, Male, Tenor, Late 20s to late 30s

Father to the Little Girl, Tateh is a wonderful character who displays the struggles of the newly arrived to this country during the turn of the century. As he sits aboard the rag ship that provides his passage to a new life, he dreams of the ease with which he will find success and wealth in America. In the novel, we first meet Tateh after he has arrived in America. At any rate, in both the novel as well as the show, we are given a fairly intimate view into the lives of these new immigrants. We witness Tateh’s progression from naive optimism to misery in the face of stark poverty. He then rebounds to a person who enjoys absolute success as a pioneer in the early days of the motion picture industry. Tateh is an imaginably devoted and loving father to his daughter. His entire being is dedicated to her, and her needs are ultimately the source of his drive to emerge from the abject poverty they endure. The actor who seeks this role must convey the undeniable sense of showmanship and charisma that Tateh exhumes.

HARRY HOUDINI, Male, Baritone, Early 20s to early 30s

 He’s a magician who gains worldwide notoriety for his feats as an escapist. His character is, along with many others, less pronounced in the show than in the novel. In the show, he embodies the story of an immigrant’s success in America. He also reflects the rise of the fame and celebrity status that was newly emerging in this era due vastly to improved communication.  However, even though he attempts to hide his origins, he never, never forgets them.

EMMA GOLDMAN, Female, Alto, Mid 30s to late 40s

A fascinating firebrand, Emma Goldman adds to the lengthy list of historical figures that populate the show. Staunchly leftist, Goldman spends her entire life tirelessly crusading against the injustices faced by the poor working-class, uneducated masses who struggled to make a life for themselves. In our story, Goldman meets Tateh, a new immigrant to America, and his daughter. She works to enlist him in the fight to earn rights for workers. She also becomes acquainted with Younger Brother. Goldman must be played as a tremendously passionate human being. She must speak with the vigorous enthusiasm and influence that would command masses to take action, even in the face of jeopardizing their very livelihoods and lives alike. A staunch anarchist, Goldman’s verbalized political zeal must be palpable in audition. She is not for the weak or tame of heart.

MOTHER, Female, Mezzo-Soprano, Mid 30s to late 40s

Mother very much represents the rapidly changing ideals and cultural norms at-play within the country during this era. In the absence of her husband, she must not only take on the role of managing the household, but must also lead the business affairs of her husband’s company during his expedition. The novel takes a bit more time to describe the successes she has at this venture. She both witnesses and is equally changed by the times in which she lives. While it is not a transformation she sought, she nevertheless accepts it and emerges vastly stronger, much to the chagrin of her husband who feels displaced. The actor who seeks to take on this role will display quiet strength. Mother is a reserved woman, and is the epitome of elegance and social conditioning. She should reflect polish and formality, but not suggest a sense of being elitist or unapproachable.

FATHER, Male, Baritone, Mid 30s to late 40s

Father makes the decision to go off stomping around the North Pole and leaves his family. Still, you really can’t help but feel sorry for him as he, unsuccessfully, tries to reconnect with the world left behind before his journey. He struggles to eventually realize that the world he left no longest exists. In truth, this process is probably quite similarly experienced by many people as they age. His sense of nostalgia and connection for the past prevents him from adapting to the realities of the new world in which he exists. It’s strange, on the one hand, he can be played as a staunch conservative who simply doesn’t understand the modern world in which he lives. On the other hand, the novel paints him as much more of a sympathetic character. Father is a great guy. He can’t help his predicament any more than anyone can help his or her own personal biases and perspectives formulated over the course of a few decades. Anyway, he should be played as a sympathetic, albeit somewhat short-sighted person.

EVELYN NESBIT, Female, Mezzo-Soprano, 18 – 25 years old

Evelyn is the iconic sex symbol in America during the time in which our story is set. Her character is invariably played to be very one-dimensional. She is a goofy, gorgeous, bombshell young actress and model. Not so. In reality, as in the novel, Evelyn was a remarkably sharp young woman. Yes, she may project the outward appearances of a clichéd mindless beauty, but we want to see the truth of her personality revealed in small doses.

YOUNGER BROTHER, Male, Tenor, 18 – 28 years old

Younger Brother represents one of the characters from the novel who is a bit shortchanged in the show. Younger Brother is a bit of a lost soul. He is quite intelligent, very idealistic, and very gifted in his trade, but he lacks direction and focus. First, we’re shown his Evelyn Nesbit infatuation phase. Next, we’re shown his crusade for social justice phase. Bottom line, he needs to be focused, identifiable with his social standing, and played somewhat reserved and awkward.

GRANDFATHER, Male, Spoken, early 50s and up

Grandfather is written as a very simple, clichéd crotchety old man in the show. We don’t know much about him. However, he should be played as an important source of comedy and a very crotchety old man!

WILLIE CONKLIN, Male, Tenor, Mid 20s to late 30s

Willie is a very colorful character who is the spark that ignites Coalhouse’s mini-revolution. He is the very epitome of racial intolerance.  His lack of intelligence and racial superiority echo the deep divisions that exist between the various races, creeds, and ethnicities. Having said that, he is brash, brazen, abrasive, offensive, and just plain ugly.

HENRY FORD, Male, Baritone, Mid 30s to late 40s

Henry Ford was folksy, full of himself, and a self-made man. Ford almost single-handedly help create the middle class in America, given his contributions to industrialize America and the world. His passion for his business is felt and reflected in every waking second of his life. He is full of energy, and the actor must also be very strong and confident.

LITTLE GIRL, Female, Soprano, Young 8 – 12 years

Tateh’s daughter is a young Eastern European immigrant. While reserved and quiet she is not shy and is unusually mature for her age. She is intelligent and is raised by her father to be a cautious participant in a world of struggles. Her dead-pan delivery of a few lines provides some wonderful laughs that must be played stone-faced.

LITTLE BOY, Male, Alto, Young 8 – 12 years

The young, inquisitive, and slightly unique son in our story’s core family, the Little Boy is often seen as being one of two possible sources of the narrative in the novel. He’s intelligent, has sharp diction, is creative, and somewhat clairvoyant.  He is truly unique and the actor needs to show that.


Please audition for one of the above roles.  However, ACT will cast an additional 20 Actors in both Featured and Ensemble roles. All actors cast will participate in the many group numbers in Ragtime.