King of Ragtime: The Story of Scott Joplin

Mark your calendar and get your advance tickets for King of Ragtime: The Story of Scott Joplin — a multimedia extravaganza celebrating Scott Joplin, ragtime music, art, picture book illustration, and community connections – at the Colonial Theater on Sunday, June 5, at 3:00 pm. (Some fun details on our Facebook page!)

Local author, illustrator, and self-described “rusty piano player”, Stephen Costanza will share themes from his recent book, King of Ragtime: The Story of Scott Joplin. He will be joined on stage by Rita Brown on flute; Maria Keeler on violin; Edith Gawler on vocals, fiddle and calabash banjo; and Zeb Campbell on vocals, guitar and banjo. Pianist Alden Mills will play popular hits from the 1890s to the 1920s before the show, so arrive early!

In Dreamland at the Colonial Theater, 163 High St. $5 kids, $15 adults. Advance ticket sales at or available at the door. (Doors open at 2:30 pm.)

Masks are heartily requested, in accordance with the BFS public health policy, here.

What will the show be like?

This family-friendly show features live music, projections of art, animations, archival footage, some historical context, and a window into Steve Costanza’s process of writing and illustrating a book about a composer as amazing as Scott Joplin.

What’s Ragtime?

Here’s Steve at the tech run, explaining some features of ragtime music. Come to the show to hear more!

What’s the book like?

Published in 2021 by Atheneum, Costanza’s book has garnered accolades from critics and won the 2022 Golden Kite Award for Picture Book illustration from SCBWI . Described as “pitch-perfect” by Publishers Weekly and “a biography as bouncy and colorful as ragtime itself” by Kirkus, the “melodic, flowing text goes beyond Joplin’s personal details to paint a picture of what life looked like for African Americans during the Jim Crow era,” according to Booklist.  Left Bank Books will host a book signing in the lower lobby after the show, so you can get your own copy on June 5!

Here’s a video trailer of the book:

Who made this program possible?

BFS co-founder Annadeene Fowler and BFS director Chrissy Fowler collaborated with Steve Costanza to plan this event, and BFS is grateful for support and funding from the Belfast Free Library, The Colonial Theater, Left Bank Books, First National Bank & First National Wealth Management, No Axe to Grind, and BFS supporters.