Neo-Nazis are typically a loud bunch, and it takes a rare and assured murals to drown out their loud, ugly racket. Parade, opening tonight on Broadway on the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, is that murals.
With a serendipitous promoting slogan – “This Is Not Over Yet” – borrowed from one of the vital highly effective songs from a stunning rating, the revival of 1998’s Parade arrives simply when it is most wanted, offering an eloquent smackdown response to the rise in anti-Semitism made all too clear by the hate group protesting outdoors the present’s first preview (they have not been again).
With a solid as nice as it’s giant, led by Ben Platt and Micaela Diamond – two of the very best singers presently on Broadway – Parade, set in 1913 Georgia, scores its topical factors with all of the artistry and theatrical know-how to fulfill and exceed his noble intentions. Parade is as commanding as any musical revival to hit Broadway in years.
Platt, Diamond (Credit: Joan Marcus)
Directed by Michael Arden, Parade stars Platt and Diamond as Leo and Lucille Frank, the real-life Jewish couple whose lives have been decimated by Leo’s arrest and trumped-up conviction for the rape and homicide of 13-year-old Mary Phagan. After his dying sentence was commuted to life in jail, the case beneath a re-evaluation that continues to this present day – even auto magnate and consummate anti-Semite Henry Ford doubted the responsible verdict – Frank was dragged by a lynch mob from his jail cell and hanged from a tree department.
Not precisely the same old stuff of a Broadway musical, huh? Yet e book author Alfred Uhry and composer Jason Robert Brown delivered a musical (co-conceived and initially directed by Harold Prince) that was as partaking because it was poignant, offsetting the broader scope of a historical past lesson with a wedding story that is convincing in its complexity and heartbreaking in its conclusion.
But even with the head-start of stable supply materials, each manufacturing of Parade has to deal with some inherent obstacles. Move too slowly and the story turns into ponderous. Cast the improper performers, even in supporting roles (possibly particularly in supporting roles) and the steadiness of delicate energy dynamics crumbles. Less than stellar singers, and there goes a rating that may soar.
Arden, Platt and Diamond see to it that this revival sails over these landmines. Along with a 33-person solid that features such stand-outs as, to cherry-pick just a few, Alex Joseph Grayson (as a mendacity, arm-twisted ex-con witness), Jay Armstrong Johnson (as an unscrupulous reporter) and Danielle Lee Greaves (because the Franks’ servant bullied into betrayal) – this parade, which started as an Encores! presentation on the on-a-roll New York City Center (originator of Broadway’s current Into the Woods), could be very doubtless nearly as good an interpretation of the Uhry-Brown work as most of us will ever see.
The ‘Parade’ firm (Credit: Joan Marcus)
Performed on a set designed by Dane Laffrey and constructed round a raised, boxy, center-stage platform that calls to thoughts witness stands, boxing rings, picket gallows and old-timey bandstands, parade glides by because the motion strikes from residence to pencil manufacturing facility , chain gang roadside to governor’s mansion, every location change asserting itself by way of unsettling, usually eerie historic pictures projected towards a again wall. Characters are launched the identical means, with black-and-white visages reminding us that the individuals we see singing and dancing as soon as actually and really walked this earth.
Most viewers members will doubtless know the broad historic outlines of the story that begins in 1913, when Leo Frank, a Brooklyn-raised Jew transplanted to Marietta, Georgia, to work in a pencil manufacturing facility, was accused of younger Mary’s horrific homicide. The lady, an meeting line employee at 13, was discovered useless within the manufacturing facility’s basement hours after she was seen visiting Frank’s workplace to choose up her paycheck.
Uhry’s e book, with out tipping his hand too blatantly, introduces us to Leo and spouse Lucille hours earlier than the crime, their bickering about his engaged on the “Confederate Memorial Day” vacation and its celebratory parade pointing up the bedrock variations of their world views as Jews born and raised on reverse sides of the Mason-Dixon Line.
“Confederate Memorial Day is asinine,” he tells her. “Why would anybody wish to rejoice dropping a warfare?” Given that we have simply seen a quick, musical preamble flashback to a younger Confederate soldier parting together with his hometown lady – the Stephen Foster-esque quantity “The Old Red Hills of Home,” nicely sung by Charlie Webb, simply one of many many ensemble gamers given a second to shine – we all know instantly that Leo’s fish-out-of-water opinions will deliver him nothing good.
Young Mary (Erin Rose Doyle) can also be launched early on, wearing her new holiday-picnic costume and holding tight to a white, helium-filled balloon as she exchanges mildly flirtatious small speak with a goofy native boy (Jake Pedersen) for a film date we all know won’t ever occur. Mary’s dying will come quickly, signed on stage by the discharge and ascension of that balloon (one of many manufacturing’s few slips right into a heavy-handedness additionally evidenced in Platt’s jailed Leo remaining on stage all through intermission).
Alex Joseph Grayson (Credit: Joan Marcus)
Along the way in which to Leo’s inevitable, tragic and infuriating finish, Parade introduces us to a large and numerous array of personages, together with a corrupt prosecutor Hugh Dorsey (Paul Alexander Nolan, as exemplary right here as he was in Slave Play), a guilt-ridden governor (Sean Allan Krill, even stronger than he was in Jagged Little Pill), a racist choose (Howard McGillin), an antisemitic newspaper writer (Manoel Felciano) and the Black servants (Douglas Lyons, Courtnee Carter) who can solely marvel, angrily and dejectedly, in any respect the eye being targeted on the hanging of 1 white man when “there is a black man swingin’ in each tree.”
That line is from the Act II opening quantity “Rumblin’ and a Rollin,” simply one in all this revival’s many superbly carried out songs, from the exhilaratingly bitter “That’s What He Said” to the deceptively candy “Factory Girls” carried out by a trio of Mary’s mendacity mates.
But make no mistake, Parade belongs to Leo and Lucille. For his half, Platt has no bother reminding us simply why he is grow to be one in all Broadway’s most beloved performers. His vocals listed here are beautiful, hovering excessive and sinking low in a remarkably versatile, pitch-perfect and bell-toned efficiency, modulated for each emotional nuance of a rating than strikes notes of vaudeville, pop balladry and musical theater showstopper. While Platt’s onscreen performances have been, thus far, a bit hit or miss, and if his Leo might stand to proof a contact extra of the wear and tear and tear taken by two years in a Georgia jail, his stage presence, appearing chops and singing prowess place him close to the highest of his era’s Broadway stars.
Diamond matches Platt step-by-step and be aware for be aware, a delightfully sudden achievement for a relative newcomer who made her Broadway debut as one of many Chers within the largely forgettable 2018 jukebox musical The Cher Show. The Platt-Diamond duets like “Leo At Work/What Am I Waiting For?”, “All the Wasted Time” and, particularly, “This Is Not Over Yet” are knock-outs, their vocals becoming collectively in methods solely hinted at throughout their excellent solo numbers (Platt’s “Leo’s Statement: It’s Hard to Speak My Heart”, Diamond’s “You Don’t Know This Man”).
Director Arden and choreographers Lauren Yalango-Grant & Christopher Cree Grant do not skimp on the large ensemble numbers both, reaching a rousing (and menacing) “Where Will You Stand When the Flood Comes?”
Sure, we all know the place this mob will stand come the flood, however that data does little to melt the blow when Platt’s Leo, dressed solely within the nightshirt he was carrying when kidnapped (costumer designer Susan Hilferty’s work is high notch all through), drops to his dying in a little bit of stagecraft that, whereas not fairly as gasp-inducing as an analogous scene in final 12 months’s Hangmen, nonetheless packs its punch.
In a quick coda that jumps to the current day, the actors who performed that long-ago Confederate soldier and his sweetheart take the stage in trendy costume as a younger couple fortunately picnicking on the very web site the place a plaque marks the spot of Frank’s lynching. It’s a purposely ambiguous scene, maybe hopeful, extra doubtless not. A projection reminds us that Frank’s case, reopened in 2019, stays formally unresolved.
Venue: Broadway’s Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre
Directors: Michael Arden
Books: Alfred Uhry
Music: Jason Robert Brown
Cast: Ben Platt, Micaela Diamond, Alex Joseph Grayson, Sean Allan Krill, Howard McGillin, Paul Alexander Nolan, Jay Armstrong Johnson, Kelli Barrett, Courtnee Carter, Eddie Cooper, Erin Rose Doyle, Tony Award nominee Manoel Felciano, Danielle Lee Greaves, Douglas Lyons , Jake Pedersen, Florrie Bagel, Stacie Bono, Max Chernin, Emily Rose DeMartino, Christopher Gurr, Beth Kirkpatrick, Ashlyn Maddox, Sophia Manicone, William Michals, Jackson Teeley, Charlie Webb.
Running time: 2 hours half-hour (together with intermission)