Show Music Magazine
Summer 1999
Album reviews

That leaves Jason Robert Brown’s PARADE (BMG/RCA Victor 63378; 78:59) as the sole new score from the ‘98-99 Broadway season to be recorded.  A message musical, with book by Alfred Uhry, Parade had a limited run at Lincoln Center but received the most Tony nominations (nine) of any production this season.  Receiving mixed reviews, it divided audiences who were either intrigued or bored with its true story of transplanted-to-Atlanta-and-feeling-out-of-place Jewish northerner Leo Frank.  Accused of raping and murdering a young girl in 1913, Frank was convicted and sentenced to death but, when his execution was commuted two years later, was lynched by a mob.  The characters of Frank and his wife Lucille, whose marriage was probably a loveless arranged one, don’t generate much sympathy until well into the musical’s second act, and t is never made clear whether its creators felt Frank was guilty or innocent.  On record, Brown’s score is impressive (orchestrated by Don Sebesky and conducted by Eric Stern), with the stirring “The Old Red Hills of Home” and catchy “The Picture Show” and “Pretty Music.”  “Leo at Work/What Am I Waiting For?,” “You Don’t Know This Man,” “It’s Hard to Speak My Heart,” and “All the Wasted Time” help in understanding Leo and Lucille.  Brown (Songs for a New World) is definitely a talent worth hearing, and watching.  As Leo and Lucille, Brent Carver (Kiss of the Spider Woman) and Carolee Carmello (Hello Again) are as close as possible to perfection.  He transmits Leo’s sense of being an outsider and growing realization that Lucille is the most important part of his life.  She evolves from detached frustration that her marriage lacks emotion to determined champion of her husband’s innocence.  Among a thrilling supporting cast, mention should be made of Evan Pappas (My Favorite Year), Herndon Lackey (Forbidden Broadway), Jessica Molaskey (Weird Romance), Don Chastain (No Strings), John Hickok, Rufus Bonds, Jr., Kirk McDonald, Jeff Edgerton, and Ray Aranha.  And it hsould be noted RCA Victor’s Bill Rosenfield’s campaigning was in large part responsible for getting this recording released.

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