Copyright Houston Chronicle Publishing Company Division, The Hearst
Corporation (the "Houston Chronicle") May 30, 1999


Original Broadway Cast Recording

RCA Victor

THE best musical of the season, featuring one of the finest scores of recent
years, arrives on disc with its dramatic power intact in the splendid cast album
of Parade.

Composer and lyricist Jason Robert Brown and librettist Alfred Uhry have built
a tragic yet exalting work upon the true story of Leo Frank, the transplanted
Brooklyn Jew railroaded for the murder of young factory worker Mary Phagan
in 1913 Atlanta.

Brown makes an impressive Broadway debut with this bold and original score,
bolstered by ever-relevant lyrics. A vivid tapestry of marches, hymns, blues,
fox trots and wrenchingly emotional ballads, it captures the characters, setting
and period.

Yet Brown filters it all through a modern perspective, his use of fragmentation
and dissonance lending a touch of Charles Ives. As a songwriter who honors
theater tradition while pointing the way to the future, Brown could be the
successor to Stephen Sondheim.

The songs chart the high points of Uhry's taut book, explaining the social and
historic background that let such a terrible injustice occur. The ambitious
opening, The Old Red Hills of Home, typifies the score. It is first sung by a
young Confederate soldier as he marches to war, then by the same character
50 years later as he marches in the Confederate Memorial Parade, the
townsfolk joining in a soaring anthem that declares Civil War-era pride and
enmity are still burning bright.

Leo's introductory number, How Can I Call This Home?, poignantly portrays
his outsider status. His wife, Lucille's, opener, What Am I Waiting For?,
expresses her frustration as a genteel assimilated Southern Jew in an arranged
marriage. It Don't Make Sense, the heartbreaking chorale at the dead girl's
funeral, expresses the populace's anguish and mounting furor, the roots of the
blind quest for vengeance. You Don't Know This Man is Lucille's eloquent
defense of Leo; Come Up to My Office, the courtroom fantasy in which Leo
briefly becomes the lecherous devil the prosecution is painting him as.

This compelling tale's emotional center is the relationship of Leo and Lucille,
who ironically discover their strength of character and love for each other in the
midst of this nightmare. They share a moment of exhilarating triumph in This Is
Not Over Yet, as they learn Leo's death sentence has been commuted. All the
Wasted Time, the score's climax, is an incredibly moving duet expressing their
belated yet profound passion.

Brent Carver and Carolee Carmello sing Leo and Lucille superbly, with power
and unwavering conviction. Evan Pappas' cynical reporter and Rufus Bonds
Jr.'s wily convict are vivid standouts in the fine supporting cast. Enthralling
choral work, Don Sebesky's rich orchestrations and Eric Stern's incisive
musical direction enhance the score.

Glowing with intelligence, passion, and uncompromising integrity, Parade is a
must for all who appreciate the musical as a serious art form. Despite its brief
run, it already has won this year's New York Drama Critics Award and Drama
Desk Award as best musical and is a leading contender (with nine nominations)
for the Tonys on June 6.