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Ragtime (2009 Broadway revival)
Photograph: Joan MarcusRagtime (2009 Broadway revival)

Seeing Broadway stars perform Ragtime on Ellis Island is now as easy as winning the lottery

By
Adam Feldman
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For fans of the musical Ragtime, it sounded like a dream come true: a star-studded, one-night concert of the 1998 Broadway epic, staged on Ellis Island on August 8. The musical deals, in part, with the changes that immigration brought to America at the turn of the 20th century, and Ellis Island was the country’s busiest gateway to newcomers at that time. What better site for a site-specific staging?

But as Ragtime devotees know, not everyone has equal access to their dreams. Disappointment set in when fans realized that the event—billed as a “site-specific developmental concert,” with an eye toward a full production in 2017—was to be restricted to an invited audience. Now, however, there is hope: Members of the general public can win free seats to the show through a lottery this weekend.

Based on E.L. Doctorow’s brilliant quasihistorical novel, Ragtime depicts the social upheavals of early 20th-century America through interwoven plots that follow the lives of an African-American pianist, a wealthy WASP woman and a Jewish immigrant. The August 8 concert will be hosted by original star Brian Stokes Mitchell; the cast includes Brandon Victor Dixon—who is set to join Hamilton as Aaron Burr this month—as well as Broadway’s Laura Michelle Kelly, Robert Petkoff, Michael Park, Andy Mientus, Aisha Jackson and Shaina Taub. (The eternally adorable Georgia Engel makes a cameo appearance as Harry Houdini’s mother.)

Here’s how to enter the Ragtime lottery:

Step one: Visit the Ragtime on Ellis Island website and enter the lottery here. Entries are limited to one per person, but you can request either one or two seats.

Step two: Get a second lottery entry by sharing a piece of your own family’s history from the early 20th century on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, and tagging it with @RagtimeOnEllis.

The lottery closes at 7pm on Sunday, August 7. Winners will be notified at 10am on Monday, August 8, and must claim their tickets by 1pm that day.

Your odds of winning may not be great, but they're probably better than they are in the Hamilton lottery. So enter now! Tweet now! Ride on the wheels of your dream!

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