The Humanity of PARADE On Full Display — Review
On the evening of Tuesday, February 21, as patrons eagerly entered the Jacobs Theatre for the first preview of Parade, they were hounded with vitriol by a small group of neo-Nazis protesting the musical and the continued legacy of Leo Frank It was an upsetting sight to behold across social media, but made the story coming from inside that theatre all the more necessary.
Director Michael Arden has moved his acclaimed production to Broadway after its celebrated seven-day run at New York City Center this past November. Jason Robert Brown and Alfred Uhry’s stunning tale is just as breathtaking as before, with the added benefit of time and money to bring the show to a slightly elevated level.
The Tony-winning musical, now in its first revival on Broadway, tells the true story of Frank, a Jewish factory manager in 1913 Atlanta who is falsely accused and convicted of the rape and murder of a young girl. The show explores the complexities of the case and the racism, anti-Semitism, and corruption that led to Frank's wrongful conviction and eventual lynching.
Back on 45th Street for the first time since his award-winning run in Dear Evan Hansen, Ben Platt is a tour-de-force as Frank, showcasing an emotional depth we have yet to see from the accomplished actor. After some time away from the stage to focus on his music career, Platt returns to the boards with a vulnerability of Frank that has grown deeply since the City Center production. The star is lucky to be paired with the astonishing Micaela Diamond as his devoted wife Lucille Frank.
Diamond's portrayal of Lucille is equally stunning, capturing her fierce determination and love for her husband. Together, the two make a formidable pair whose chemistry flies off the stage. The duo’s rousing late-in-Act II anthem “This Is Not Over Yet” is simply put, the reason we attend the theatre.
A majority of the cast from the last production has also transferred downtown with the exception of Gaten Matarazzo and Jennifer Laura Thompson, whose roles are now played by Jake Pedersen and Stacie Bono respectively. Alex Joseph Grayson continues to thrill as Jim Conley and Sean Allan Krill is wonderful as Governor Slaton.
Arden’s direction effortlessly weaves together the moving tale from scene to scene with effective tableaus interspersed throughout. Dane Laffrey’s scenic design and Sven Ortel’s excellent projection design remain intact, the only shift being the orchestra down in the pit rather than on stage. With just over a thousand seats compared to City Center’s 2,750, the large production is now running in an intimate house that helps you lean in even more. Very few changes have been made, except the addition of Erin Rose Doyle’s Mary Phagan now on a swing suspended far above the stage, which I’m not sure was all that necessary.
Jason Robert Brown's score is a masterpiece. From lush and haunting ballads to spirited melodies, there is a reason Broadway has hungered so long for the show's return. The powerful musical is a reminder that theatre is a beautiful art form that can speak so eloquently to the current times.
Parade is currently playing at the Jacobs Theatre. For more information and tickets, click here.