- Kyle Primous as musician Coalhouse Walker leads the JCCs cast of Ragtime, the Musical.
Stonewall Jackson's House -- It's easy to be controversial: Just make a statement that goes against the currently accepted "liberal" conventional wisdom, and you're sure to ignite some arguments and maybe get yourself a book contract with Ann Coulter's publisher. At least, that was true in the mid-1990s, when Jonathan Reynolds wrote this often amusing but relentlessly self-congratulatory diatribe on myriad racial, gender, and theatrical issues. Given an earnestly overcranked production by a talented Karamu cast, this play begins intriguingly but devolves quickly into an extended screed that feels like one of the hundred or so right-wing radio shows now glutting the airwaves. Here, the good ol' paternalistic welfare state is trundled out for abuse, ignoring the fact that, since this play was written, federal funding has been largely ripped away from the deprived and funneled into the coffers of needy multinational corporations. Of course, these events of the last few years aren't the playwright's fault, but the script of Stonewall fails at levels other than lack of contemporary relevance; Reynolds has some interesting and occasionally compelling points to make, but these gems are buried in an ultimately insufferable avalanche of familiar wing-nut tirades. Through November 21 at Karamu Performing Arts Theatre, 2355 East 89th Street, 216-795-7070 ext. 226. -- Howey