NEW YORK (AP) _ ``Ragtime'' star Alton Fitzgerald White received an ovation from the Broadway audience and other members of the cast, five days after the black actor was mistakenly arrested on drug charges and strip-searched by police.

White, who was arrested last week in the vestibule of his apartment building in Manhattan, returned to his role as Coalhouse Walker for the musical's Wednesday matinee.

At the curtain call, the cast joined the audience in applauding White, whose character's life on stage is changed when he is harassed by white firemen because he is black.

Though police called the arrest a case of mistaken identity and have apologized to him, White said he was arrested because he is black. The incident came amid heightened concern over the practice of racial profiling, in which police allegedly stop people solely because of their race.

White said he was on his way to the bank when he spotted several police officers in front of his building, where Duke Ellington also had lived.

He opened the door for the officers, who said they were looking for four men in white T-shirts. Police have said they found a kilogram of cocaine in the lobby and arrested White, who was wearing a white T-shirt, along with five other men.

``The neighbors were vouching for me,'' White said. They told the police, he said, ``He's starring on Broadway.''

He was taken to a stationhouse and missed a performance. He said he was held even after police realized he was not involved in the crime.

He compared his experience to that of his character in the musical, based on the novel by E.L. Doctorow, which takes place in 1906. In ``Ragtime,'' after Coalhouse is humiliated and the woman he loves is killed, he becomes a revolutionary and a bomber.

Although he said he was still angry about his arrest, White said: ``I can let my anger fester and make me feel worse, or change it into confidence and fearlessness.''