Flawed musical gets heartfelt revival

The best asset of the Broadway revival of “Parade,” Jason Robert Brown’s sorrowful if flawed musical concerning the 1915 anti-Semitic lynching of Leo Frank, is youth.

Taking part in husband and spouse Leo and Lucille Frank, Ben Platt and Micaela Diamond come throughout strikingly younger (and at 23 years previous, Diamond actually is), like a light picture of your great-grandparents that you just uncover in a drawer. The topics neither smile nor frown, however behind their impartial stares is a lot promise and concern.

Theater overview

2 hours, half-hour, with one intermission. Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, 242 W. forty fifth St.

These clashing forces are what drive this revival, which opened Thursday evening on the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, and make the viewers mechanically need what’s finest for Lucille and Leo — regardless that we all know {that a} peaceable life is tragically out of attain for them.

That we care about their future is an important layer for an usually cool-to-the-touch present that has all the time been extra involved with the problems it confronts reasonably than the folks it’s about. 

Reality be advised, “Parade” is a musical that can eternally be good reasonably than nice — hampered by author Alfred Uhry’s e-book of stereotypical Southern cartoons, who’re made much less menacing and actual due to their flatness, and a rating by Brown that options each his finest songs and his most forgettable.

However director Michael Arden’s small-scale staging, which began as a Metropolis Heart live performance, has coronary heart when it focuses squarely on the Franks’ relationship rising whereas their hardship intensifies. 

Ben Platt plays Leo Frank, a Jewish man who was lynched in 1915.
Ben Platt performs Leo Frank, a Jewish man who was lynched in 1915.
Joan Marcus

The present begins and ends with a lush and loud quantity known as “The Outdated Purple Hills of Residence,” partly set in the course of the Civil Conflict and partly in 1915, suggesting that cussed Southern delight — undeserved, on this present’s estimation — is ongoing and unchanged. 

Leo has simply moved from Brooklyn to stay with Lucille in Marietta, Georgia, the place she’s from, and he feels misplaced as a Jewish man — even amongst Southern Jews. “I assumed that Jews had been Jews, however I used to be improper!” he sings.

And he’s proper to really feel focused. Whereas working as a supervisor on the Nationwide Pencil Co., he’s arrested on suspicion of killing a teenage worker named Mary Phagan (Erin Rose Doyle), whose physique is discovered within the constructing. There are different suspects, however the authorities willfully ignore them and go after Leo.

It’s these authorities — as written, and resultingly carried out — who drag “Parade” down with hackneyed, barked dialogue. The racism-spewing lawyer Hugh Dorsey (Paul Alexander Nolan) and newspaper reporter Britt Craig (Jay Armstrong Johnson) are notably one-note on paper.

They appear faux, however photos of the true historic figures are projected all through the manufacturing onto the again wall and typically in the midst of a track, which is an pointless distraction.

Jason Robert Brown's most powerful piece of music comes from the three factory girls.
Jason Robert Brown’s strongest piece of music comes from the three manufacturing facility ladies.
Joan Marcus

Brown’s most interesting music, and Platt’s most heart-wrenching work, come throughout his trial, as three manufacturing facility ladies (who’ve been coached to lie) hauntingly harmonize their testimony like Abigail from “The Crucible.” Brown has but to high it in any present.

When Leo offers his assertion, and Platt sings that his character is unemotional and awkward however harmless, it’s the tears-free reverse of when he sobbed on the finish of “Expensive Evan Hansen,” however the gut-punch is similar.

The second act has extra built-in structural points, as Lucille works tirelessly to attraction her husband’s verdict and enlists the assistance of Governor Slaton (Sean Allan Krill) to get Leo residence. A galvanizing quantity is adopted by minutes of aimless procedural wading. However there are few elegant moments.

As one other manufacturing facility employee, and suspect, Jim Conley, Alex Joseph Grayson wails the track “Really feel the Rain Fall,” which is attractive however pops up out of nowhere.

And Diamond, whose mixture of fragility and energy is thrilling for an actress so younger, brings an electrical energy to her duets with Platt: “This Is Not Over But” and the romantic “All of the Wasted Time,” which fades into the musical’s devastating conclusion.

A raised platform is a hindrance to the staging of this "Parade" revival.
A raised platform is a hindrance to the staging of this “Parade” revival.
Joan Marcus

Whereas Arden’s manufacturing is admirably (and predictably) intimate, the centerpiece of Dane Laffrey’s set — a raised picket platform that appears like one thing you may discover on a parade route, or at an execution — is a roadblock. 

Viewers members within the entrance orchestra need to crane their necks to observe lots of the scenes atop the monolith, and actors are compelled to go up some stairs to inhabit the strongest factors on the stage. That the entire solid sits onstage observing the destiny of Leo was a tad too apparent and spatially limiting. For me, the construction solely takes away — it by no means contributes something.

Nonetheless, Arden has directed a young manufacturing of a musical that may usually play like a sledgehammer, and has an anti-hate message that’s distressingly related.

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