Pioneer Theatre Guild: Ragtime (Publicity Shoot)
I’m often apprehensive when taking large group portraits — positioning each person so the group has visual coherence, working quickly so no one loses patience, and getting everyone to face the camera at the same time (preferably with their eyes open). But no matter what I do, there always seem to be some people who are unable, or unwilling, to sit still.
Just this past week, I had to travel back to the early 1900s to do a publicity photo. And I was shocked that even back then — what with all that Victorian, stiff-upper-lip stuff — the folks I met couldn’t seem to muster the self-control to cooperate for a decent portrait. Given the photographic technology of the day, I figured they’d be well accustomed to holding still for an entire minute to allow the film to be properly exposed. “Just do that standard ‘zombie-in-a-heavily-starched-collar look,’ which you all do so well.”
Well, the super-sultry supermodel Evelyn Nesbit had no interest whatsoever in doing the zombie thing. She saw this publicity photo as an opportunity to strut her famously seductive pose, and she grabbed it. Next, this guy — introduced to me as Younger Brother — started ogling Ms. Nesbitt like he’d never seen a woman before. And don’t get me started on that anarcha-feminist Emma Goldman — does she actually think she’s at one of her rallies?
* * *
The concept for the Ragtime publicity photo was producer Susan Hurwitz's idea, and it’s brilliant — especially the twist of having a few choice characters acting out. I did have concerns about pulling this off, but in the end I had no reason to worry — the cast and crew made everything easy for me.
The final image was given “ye olde daguerreotype / PhotoChop” treatment, including requisite scratches, dust, and vignette. Part of Tateh’s beard was actually “shorn” from Mandy Patinkin’s own chin (he played Tateh in the movie version of Ragtime).
Thanks to the costumers, hair and make-up artists, lighting crew members, cast members, and the production team for their efforts and expertise. I couldn't be happier with the results.
And I can’t wait for opening night!
- Adults: $15
- Students/Seniors/PHS Staff: $10
Assigned seating goes on sale on October 24 at showtix4u.com. General admission seating on sale at the door.
All performances will be in Schreiber Auditorium at Ann Arbor’s Pioneer High School.
- Saturday, November 3 @ 7:30pm
- Sunday, November 4 @ 2pm matinee
- Friday, November 9 @ 7:30pm
- Saturday, November 10 @ 7:30pm
- Sunday, November 11 @ 2pm matinee
More info here.