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Desert Companion

Theater: Singing with a net


“We do our best to keep it fun,” says RagTag Entertainment Artistic Director Andrew Wright. Since bursting onto the Vegas scene a year ago, RagTag has been a beehive of activity, test-driving theatrical works in progress. Who’s? Anybody’s.

The company’s bread-and-butter gig is the Tuesday-night slot in Green Valley Ranch Resort Spa & Casino’s Ovation showroom. But just as important is the assistance it offers to other artists and performers. Wright is helping local authors workshop musical-theater pieces such as, recently, an unnamed rock opera. Others benefiting from RagTag sponsorship are the composer/lyricist partnership of William Waldrop and Robert Williamson. What Wright describes as “a very early draft” of their musical “Pandemic!” recently premiered at Las Vegas Little Theatre’s Fringe Festival to boffo box office (and withering reviews).

[HEAR MORE: “Vegas! The Show” sings and dances entertainment history on “KNPR’s State of Nevada” ]

“Las Vegas is unique and a good litmus test,” Wright says, “but if (your show is) not ready, it won’t ruin you. It’s a much safer proving ground” than Seattle, for instance. “It’s an entertainment community, not a theater community, so it’s very forgiving.

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“We offer a variety of help, depending on what the writers want,” Wright continues. “Some only care about getting their show staged and have no interest in it getting better or going farther. … For those who truly want to make it the best, we offer communication throughout — workshops that will give critiques, and as much help as we can provide for them to ultimately launch their product.” The process includes audience-comment cards as well as feedback from musical-theater professionals (“You need to expand the vocal range on this character”).

RagTag’s bottom line, whether it’s helping UNLV theater students find an outlet for their talents or helping opera singers present Mozart’s “The Impresario,” is to keep performing artists’ passion aflame.

It’s open to all. Wright suggests that aspirants send their material to “and we will work with them. At the very least, we will set up a reading. Depending on the demands of the show, and schedules, it’ll progress from there. ... We are always happy to give people a forum to take steps on getting their works out there.”

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