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Nice to Meet You, Aaron — Finally

January 5, 2010 - Phyllis Sigal
Finally, I met Aaron Galligan-Stierle.

Aaron's name was synonymous with acting in the Ohio Valley when he was a kid and throughout high school.

And, when my son Leland became interested in theater at the age of 9, I always hoped that he would follow in Aaron's footsteps. And that when people thought "theater," they would think "Leland," just as they had about Aaron.

I've written a few stories and a few blogs on Aaron, but never had the pleasure of meeting him face-to-face, until last week, after we saw "Ragtime," which unfortunately is soon to close.

"Ragtime" is Aaron's second show on Broadway.

The 1998 Wheeling Park graduate's first was Broadway role was as Papa Who in Dr. Seuss' "How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical."

In "Ragtime" he is Henry Ford as well as 12 other characters in the ensemble.

And he was wonderful.

We could hear his voice loud and clear, as soon as he made his way onto the stage in the opening number.

He's got presence, talent, a voice and personality on that stage.

The theater was packed, too, with a number of standing-room patrons enjoying the show. (One notable in attendance — seated, not standing — was Constantine Maroulis from "American Idol" fame and now starring in "Rock of Ages" on Broadway.)

So, what I don't understand is how a show, filled to the rafters with grateful audience members and getting great reviews (Time Magazine named "Ragtime" the No. 1 musical of 2009) can close after less than two months. (Of course, it's all about money and ticket sales.)

The night before we went to see the show, we heard it was to close Sunday, Jan. 3. But, a surge in ticket sales allowed the show to go on — for eight more performances.

However, the show must close on Jan. 10 in order to make way for another performance.

Based on a novel by E.L. Doctorow, it tells the story of life in the early 1900s.

We meet three distinct groups of people at the turn of the century — a Harlem musician and his girlfriend; a Latvian immigrant and his daughter; an upper class white family. What makes the tale so interesting and poignant is how the lives of the three collide. The opening number offers a beautiful foreshadowing of that. The final scene is a perfect ending.

"Ragtime" is a wonderful story, full of life — tears, joy, choices, laughter, confict, death. There are characters with whom to fall in love, others to hate, some to pity, some to celebrate.

We were all in tears at the end. And the audience gave a rousing standing ovation as the curtain rose on the ensemble. Quite clearly, the story, the voices, the actors all made an impression.

What a shame more people won't have an opportunity after Jan. 10 to experience "Ragtime."

On Tour: Another local actor, Ashley Yeater from Moundsville, who graduated from Wheeling Park High School in 1999, is now on tour in "A Chorus Line," as Sheila. What a great show and what a terrific part for Ashley!

Previously she toured in "Footloose" and "Chicago" and was in "The Producers" on Broadway.

But, "A Chorus Line." Wow. I can only imagine how exciting that is. I love the show, and would think that most Broadway actors would give anything for a role "on the line," too. It looks like the closest the show will be to our area, at least through May, is Wilmington, Del., March 2-7, and Hershey, Pa., March 9-14.

The Web site calls it: "The Best Musical. Ever." I think I might agree.

So, break a leg, Ashley. And, to Aaron, I'm waiting to hear about your next show.


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