'Parade,' 'Queen' lead off local theater offerings
by E.S. Dunbar

Parkinson’s Law states that ‘work expands to fill the time available,’ and under the brilliant direction of Bill Kamberger, Fells Point Corner Theater’s stage has expanded to fit perfectly the monumental proportions of "Parade." With driving music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown, Parade is a Sondheim-esque large-cast musical, with all the depth and darkness of "Sweeney Todd"–but "Parade" is the true and devastating story of the 1913 Atlanta lynching of Leo Frank.

This is a virtually flawless production of a virtually flawless play. No detail has been overlooked. Bush Greenbeck’s multi-purpose single set is elegantly effective in its simplicity, supported by superb lighting design by Charles Danforth III. Tim Viets’s orchestral re-creation works seamlessly with Jane Rubak’s musical direction.

And oh, the voices! Like many post-Sondheim musicals, Parade borders on the operatic–except that in the impeccable musicality of these voices, every word is clear, every lyric is compelling, every musical event moves the complex plot inexorably forward. And these singers can act!

Seeing Parade is more wrenching than it is fun. This is powerful drama that reaches and breaches the American soul. This is powerful music that reaches our sense of right and wrong and makes us cry. This is powerful theatre that reaches the heart as well as the mind. It’s not fun, but you definitely don’t want to miss this parade of the complexities of the human condition.

"Parade" continues at Fells Point Corner Theatre, 251 S. Ann Street, weekends through October 20 except during the Fells Point Festival. This is a sell-out show, so make reservations early by calling Fells Point Corner Theatre at 410-276-7837.

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