It is the turn of the twentieth century in New York. An era is exploding. A century is spinning. And the people are moving in rhythm and rhyme to the music of Ragtime. Based on the novel by E.L Doctorow, Terrence McNally's script weaves together the story of three groups in America, represented by Coalhouse Walker Jr, a Harlem musician; Mother and her family in New Rochelle; and Tateh, a Jewish immigrant who has come to America with his daughter seeking a new life. It features many historical figures, including Harry Houdini, Booker T. Washington, JP Morgan and Henry Ford.