Published in The Dallas Morning
Tony-winning 'Parade' weaves a moving love story
By LAWSON TAITTE
Andrea Burns had a special relationship with "Parade" from the very
beginning. Composer Jason Robert Brown and she were childhood
friends, and she starred in his first New York revue, "Songs for a New
World." The night that show closed, Mr. Brown played for her and the
other cast members the first number he had written for his new
"I thought, 'Wow, I don't know what it means, but it sounds great!' ''
Ms. Burns recalls. "He would play parts of it for me from time to time,
and I attended the first public dress rehearsal.''
Meanwhile Ms. Burns' career was progressing along its own lines.
She played Belle in the New York company of "Beauty and the
Beast" and starred in the Dallas Summer Musicals' touring version of
"Oklahoma!" two years ago. This season she created the lead role in
the first New York production of Stephen Sondheim's rediscovered
early piece, "Saturday Night. "
"Parade" wound up on Broadway 18 months ago, winning the Tony
Award for best book and score of a musical. Carolee Carmello
nabbed a Tony for the leading female role, Lucille Frank. Partly
because of the disintegration of the production company, Livent, the
show had only a short New York run. But people believed in it so
strongly that it is being completely remounted for a tour that comes
to Dallas on Tuesday. And this time Ms. Burns plays Lucille.
"Of course, you can imagine what it feels like standing onstage
singing it now,'' she says.
"Parade" tells a harrowing real-life story in a moving, very human
way. Leo Frank, a young Jewish factory manager in 1913 Atlanta
(played by David Pittu, who starred in David Mamet's film "The
Spanish Prisoner"), is accused of raping and murdering one of his
workers. At first, his wife, Lucille, doesn't quite know what to make of
the charges. It was virtually an arranged marriage, and she doesn't
really understand her husband. Eventually, though, she leads the
efforts to have him exonerated.
"This is also a love story, no question about it,'' the show's renowned
director, Harold Prince, says.
Ms. Burns' role is challenging, both dramatically and musically.
"Even though this happened to her when she was a young woman,
she grows up into a very strong adult,'' Ms. Burns says. "And the
great thing about Jason's music is that it combines folk, pop and
blues sounds, but you have got to be legitimately trained to sing it.''
Mr. Brown himself is, most unusually, conducting the tour orchestra.
"Who can blame him? When you put your heart into something like
this, you want to be involved in it,'' Ms. Burns says. "And believe me,
the cast is aware of him. You're not going to slack off when the
composer is standing right there in front of you.''
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