CD Review: Parade

Rainbow Rating:  4 out of 5

Original Broadway cast recording (Bmg/Rca Victor; ASIN: B00000IMFL)

Parade was nominated for 9 Tony awards of which it actually won Best Book of a Musical and Best Original Score. Both leading actors were nominated and the power of Brett Carver (a favourite of mine since Kiss Of the Spider Woman) and Carolee Carmello shine through on the cast recording. The other competitors must have been incredible to have beaten these two, but then awards are often more about politics than art. Unfortunately for the musical theatre lover the show had already closed by the time it finally achieved recognition but there`s nothing like belated awards to earn a cult following. By listening to this cast recording it certainly deserved the Tony accolades and a loyal following.

In simple terms the show tells the true story of Leo Frank, a Brooklyn-born Jew living in Atlanta and the "Trial of the Century" in which he was falsely accused of killing Mary Phagan, a young girl working in the factory he managed. As an outsider, Leo was quickly pounced upon and made the scapegoat for the town`s anger and grief. At his rushed trial he was found guilty and sentenced to hang. His wife, Lucille, launched a campaign to save his life which resulted in the Governor overturning the death sentence - only to have a vigilante mob lynch him. The title of the show refers to the annual parade held on Confederate Memorial Day, the day the murder took place.

This is a great CD, a real epic musical with depth and integrity that deftly conjures up the emotions being expressed. You can feel the progression of the characters, from the stilted formality of the leads` opening encounters to their heart-wrenching love re-acquaintance of, "All That Wasted Time". It is a moving score filled with emotional moments, memorable songs, large chorus scenes and music encompassing styles from both ends of the 20th century. The quality is more amazing when you realise that this was the Broadway debut for its composer-lyricist.

Musicals these days don`t often get this powerful. It evokes the scale of Ragtime and it is no surprise that Livent had a hand in both. I hope that their recent difficulties don`t stop such work emerging as for me this is what musical theatre is about. A definite score to add to the collection. Brilliant.

Some reviews from the press
"To get right to the point, RCA Victor`s cast recording of Parade is magnificent...Jason Robert Brown`s score is more impressive than ever, sounding more than ever like the beautiful, highly accessible new American opera it is." - Ken Mandelbaum, writer for Playbill & In Theater Magazine

"Jason Robert Brown turns out to be the real thing, a theater creature who understands how to get under the skin of traditional American song forms and make them sing with the nervous rhythms of today." - USA Today

Music & Lyrics by Jason Robert Brown
Book by Alfred Uhry
Orchestrations by Don Sebesky
Conducted by Eric Stern
Co-Conceived and Directed by Harold Prince
Starring Brent Carver and Carolee Carmello

Parade opened on December 17, 1998 at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre at Lincoln Center. The show ended its limited engagement run on February 28, 1999

Back to The Old Red Hills of HOME