Music and Lyrics by Jason Robert Brown
Book by Alfred Uhry
Directed by Dominic Missimi
At Cahn Auditorium
On the campus of Northwestern University
Thursday, November 18, 2004 at 8 PM
Friday, November 19, 2004 at 8 PM
Saturday, November 20, 2004 at 8PM
Sunday, November 21, 2004 at 2 PM
Parade's power blasts across Cahn Auditorium's stage
Northwestern University's Theatre, Music and Interpretation
Departments, under the direction of Dominic Missimi and music
from Ryan Nelson, should take an extra bow for Parade---it is
spectacular, heart-wrenching musical. Parade is an elegant show in
finest American tradition of a Showboat or a Ragtime. Parade is a
achievement with stunning power that will move you unlike any
in recent memory. It is the American Les Miserables.
From the impressive Projection design by John Boesche, Video
Logan Kibens, set design by Scott Neale, sound by Josh Horvath
Lighting by Lee Keenan and choreography by Antonette Balestreri
twenty-four piece orchestra conducted by Ryan Nelson, Parade
sounds and feels like a major Broadway show. Northwestern
musicals are usually of higher quality than most professional
that grave the Loop theatres. This production is so impressive
it¹ll amaze even the most sophisticated theatre patron.
Parade is the true story of Leo Frank (Jesse Manocherian), a
who was wrongly convicted of the murder of thirteen-year old
Phagan (Morgan Weed). The musical covers not only the trial, but
dramatizes the love story between Leo and his wife Lucille
Shure). The show is basically an historical retelling of the
but it also subtly examines class and race relations, prejudice,
the South. In the end, Leo's sentence is commuted from the
sentence to life imprisonment, but on the two-year anniversary of
little girl's death, a mob takes him from his cell and lynches him.
Composer-lyricist Brown makes an impressive Broadway debut with
achingly beautiful songs - "Old Red Hills of Home," a stirring
of Southern pride; and "You Don't Know This Man," Lucille's
defense of her husband. This production is filled with marvelous
and rich harmonies.
Uhry's Frank is not a perfect martyr but an arrogant Atlanta
who yearns for the "real people" of his Brooklyn youth. Another
choice is to begin the evening with a noble young Rebel soldier
off to war - then magically transform him into a bitter,
one-legged veteran in the Confederate Memorial Day Parade (hence
show's title) 50 years later. In this single brilliant stroke,
provides a sympathetic insight into the men who shouted for the
the Yankee foreman who paid their children pennies an hour.
Thus Uhry shifts the blame off the common man and onto Tom Watson
Kohler), the publisher of "The Jeffersonian," who incites him with
verbatim phrases as "perverted sodomite Jew." Uhry also includes
stereotypically clownish defense lawyer, a sort of Big Daddy
His least credible characters are lesser villains: prosecutor
Dorsey, who exploits the Frank case with naked political ambition;
Britt Craig (Devin DeSantis), reporter for the now-defunct
Georgian, a generic figure of journalistic sleaze who seems to
from the opportunity rather than a sense of deep historical
Parade is simply too riveting in its authentic horrors and
intelligently told. Uhry's book has an uncanny ability to weave in
out of characters' heads, making fantasy coexist with reality;
choreography by Antonette Balestreri enhances this effect.
In the evening's most daring sequence, as factory girls give
testimony about Frank's alleged sexual advances, the
superintendent dances with them with a mad, suggestive abandon,
leaping up to strut across courtroom desks.
But the evening's transcendent moment has nothing to do with
it's about fleeting, quiet joy, as Leo and Lucille enjoy
long-awaited "picnic." In Brown's most soaring notes and
lyrics (fully realized by the voices of the superb Jesse
and Jessica Shure), the Franks come to terms with "All the Wasted
that they neglected to enjoy each other, just hours before
vigilantes seize him.
Parade is a somber, gripping beauty of a show; the kind musical
fans will relish and wish to see more than once. Because Parade
ambitious and sets the story of its two central characters against
larger social canvas, it may take some patience from the audience.
The emotional heart of the show, what we come to care about most,
the relationship between Leo and wife Lucille: As Lucille fights
justice for her husband, she changes from a docile Southern belle
figure of strength. And an arranged, somewhat distant and
marriage is transformed, husband and wife falling in love for the
time as a result of what they have endured in the two years
Parade features Jason Robert Brown's amazing assortment of
comedy songs and anthems using a wide range of styles from
(early 1900's) music to ragtime to contemporary pop forming a
"southern" sound. This score was sung with emotional fervor as
Hart (Frankie Epps), Devin Desantis, as the drunken reporter lands
terrific songs deftly. Rich performances from Jarrod Zimmerman as
nasty prosecutor Hugh Dorsey, Travis Turner as Jim Conley and
Kohn as Governor Slaton enhance the production. The ensemble had
collective effect that drove home much of the emotions of the show.
Parade's finest moments came from Jesse Manocherian as Leo Frank.
sang and exuded the fear and bewilderment Frank surely felt. His
hit us in the heart. Jessica Shure sang and portrayed Lucille
with an understated dignity and her powerful voice sent her songs
Parade is the saddest musical ever in the tradition of a Greek
Parade's integrity is haunting, as it never loses its purpose or
focus on justice, racism, anti-Semitism as it demonstrates
potential of the masses to violence.
Parade is a somber gripping gorgeous show that will leave you
its power and beckoning you to see it again. All the best musicals
that influence. You only have four performances left.
Chicago stage Talk Radio Show
November 13, 2004
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