Tony Award-Winning Composer Graced B-W
by Trevor Allen
'The Exponent' staff writer
Tony Award winner and composer of the musical Parade, Jason Robert Brown,
graced Baldwin-Wallace with his presence in a master class Thursday
afternoon. Brown is in Cleveland as the composer of his musical, which is
ending its first national tour in town.
Parade is the true story of Leo Frank, a Jewish man who was wrongly
convicted of the murder of thirteen-year old Mary Phagan. The musical covers
not only the trial, but also dramatizes the love story between Leo and his
wife Lucille. The show is basically an historical re-telling of the story,
but it also subtly examines class and race relations, prejudice, and the
South. In the end, Leo's sentence is converted from the death sentence to
life imprisonment, but on the two year anniversary of the little girl's
death, a mob takes him from his cell and lynches him.
It is a unique situation for the composer of a musical to go out on
conduct his own musical. It is even more rare for the composer to agree to
visit a local college and critique some of its best and brighest performers.
Those who got the opportunity to perform were Jodi Dominick, Derrick Cobey,
Holly Thomas, Kevin Thomas and Amanda Avery.
Thomas had this to say about performing a composer¹s music for
"It was a very humbling experience. Exciting but humbling. It was difficult
to sing a song that I¹ve sung ("It's Hard to Speak My Heart" from Parade)
for so long and feel good about it, but then have the composer tell me his
way of singing it, which he considers the right way. Jason Robert Brown is
my favorite musical theatre composer on the scene right now and it was very
exciting to sing for him."
Parade ran in the Palace Theatre and if you missed it, you missed a
show. The original Broadway cast album is available at almost any music
store, so if you are interested in great new music based on a true and vivid
story from our nation's past, Parade is for you.
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