‘Parade’ Broadway Review: Ben Platt and Michaela Diamond Lead Extraordinary March Through History

Neo-Nazis tend to be a noisy bunch, and it takes an extraordinarily confident piece of art to drown out their loud, ugly rackets. paradeopening tonight broadway It is a work of art at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theater.

The casual advertising slogan, “This Is Not Over Yet,” borrows from one of the strongest songs from the 1998 revival Nice Score. parade Arriving just when it was needed most, it delivers an eloquent smackdown response to the rise of anti-Semitism. hate group protest Outside the show’s first preview (they haven’t returned).

Led by, with a large but high-quality cast Ben Pratt and Micaela Diamond – two of the best singers on Broadway right now – paradeset in Georgia in 1913, has earned talking points for all its artistry and theatrical know-how that lives up to its noble intentions and goes beyond. parade It’s as commanding as the musical revivals that have hit Broadway for years.

Pratt, Diamond (Credit: Joan Marcus)

Directed by Michael Arden, parade Pratt and Diamond star as Leo and Lucille Frank, a real-life Jewish couple whose lives are claimed by Leo’s arrest and fabricated conviction for the rape and murder of 13-year-old Mary Fagan. After his death sentence was commuted to life in prison, the case is being reassessed to this day — even Henry Ford, an auto mogul and consummate anti-Semite, doubted the conviction — Frank Dragged from a prison cell by a lynching mob and hanged from a tree branch.

Not the usual stuff for Broadway musicals, right? Yet the book’s author Alfred Woolley and composer Jason Robert Brown offset the broader range of history lessons with a marriage tale compelling in its complexity, compelling as much as it is moving. delivered a musical (co-conceived and originally directed by Harold Prince)…and its conclusion is heartbreaking.

But even with a head start on solid source material, parade You have to contend with some inherent obstacles. If you move too slowly, the story will be heavy. Casting the wrong performers, even in supporting roles (perhaps even in supporting roles in particular), unbalances the subtle power dynamics. There are scores that can soar, less than star singers.

Arden, Pratt, and Diamond arrange for this revival to go beyond those mines.In addition to his 33-man cast, which includes outstanding casts such as Alex Joseph Grayson (as the lying, arm-twisting ex-con witness), Jay Armstrong Johnson (as the unscrupulous reporter), and Danielle, Lee Greaves (when a Frank family servant is bullied and betrayed) – This paradeIt started as an encore! On a Roll New York City Center Presentation (Recent Broadway Founder) Into the Woods), very likely the best interpretation of Uhry-Brown’s work that most of us have ever seen.

“Parade” Company (Credit: Joan Marcus)

Performed in a set designed by Dane Lafley, it was built around a raised, boxy center stage platform that recalls witness stands, boxing rings, wooden gallows and old-fashioned bandstands. parade As the action moves from the house to the pencil factory, from the roadside of the chain gang to the governor’s mansion, each change in location is announced by unsettling, often eerie historical photographs projected onto the back wall. The characters are introduced in the same way, with black and white faces reminding us that once upon a time the singing and dancing people really walked this earth.

Most listeners will be familiar with the extensive historical overview of the story, which begins in 1913. That’s when Leo Frank, a Jew raised in Brooklyn and transplanted to Marietta, Georgia to work in a pencil factory, is accused of the gruesome murder of young Mary. The girl, a 13-year-old assembly line worker, was found dead in the basement of the factory after she was spotted visiting Frank’s office to collect her paycheck.

Without leaning too blatantly, Early’s book introduces Leo and his wife, Lucille, hours before the crime, and shows him working on the “Confederate Day” holiday and its celebratory parade. arguing about and pointing out fundamental differences in Jewish worldviews. He was born and raised on the other side of the Mason-Dixon line.

“Confederate Memorial Day is silly,” he tells her. “Why would you want to celebrate losing a war?” Considering we just saw a flashback, the Stephen Foster-esque song “The Old Red Hills of Home” is often sung by Charlie Webb. An ensemble player given a moment to shine – we quickly learn that Leo’s fishy opinion does him no good.

A young Mary (Erin Rose Doyle) is also introduced early on, dressed in her new holiday picnic dress, holding a white balloon filled with helium tight, and a goofy local boy (Jake Pedersen). ) and exchange lightly flirtatious small talk. The movie dates we know will never happen. Mary’s death is imminent, and is indicated by a balloon being released and rising above the stage (one of her few rough moves in the piece is when Pratt’s imprisoned Leo stays on stage during intermission). has also been proven).

Alex Joseph Grayson (Credit: Joan Marcus)

Along the way to Leo’s inevitable, tragic, and infuriating end, parade Corrupt prosecutor Hugh Dorsey (Paul Alexander Nolan, exemplary here as he was) slave play), the guilt-ridden Governor (Sean Alan Krill, even stronger than he was small jagged pills), a racist judge (Howard McGillin), an anti-Semitic newspaper (Manoel Ferciano), and a black servant (Douglas Lyons, Courtney Carter) are angry and dejected. I can’t help but be amazed. The man when “every tree has a black man.”

That line is from Act II’s opening number, “Rumblin’ and a Rollin,” just one of many beautifully performed songs in this revival. Mary’s lying friend.

But make no mistake, parade Belongs to Leo and Lucille. Pratt has no trouble reminding us what made him one of Broadway’s most beloved performers. His vocals here are masterful, very flexible, soaring high and sinking low in a pitch-perfect, belt-tone performance. The platform’s onscreen performance has been a bit hit and miss so far. If his Leo can prove a little more of the wear and tear of his two years in a Georgia state prison, we can prove his stage presence, acting chops, and singing prowess. Broadway contemporaries place him near the top of the star.

Diamond matches Pratt step by step, note to note. It’s a welcome and unexpected achievement for the relatively newcomer who made her Broadway debut as one of Cher’s girlfriends in her almost forgettable 2018 jukebox her musical. shale showPratt and Diamond duets like “Leo At Work/What Am I Waiting For?”, “All the Wasted Time”, and especially “This Is Not Over Yet” are knockouts, and their vocals make us It just fits in the way you only hinted at. Between their standout solo numbers (Pratt’s “Leo’s Statement: It’s Hard to Speak My Mind”, Diamond’s “You Don’t Know This Man”).

Director Arden and choreographers Lauren Yarango Grant and Christopher Cree Grant don’t skimp on the massive ensemble number either, with the evocative (and menacing) ‘Where Will You Stand When the Flood Comes? ” is reached.

Sure, we know where this mob will stand when it floods, but that knowledge makes Pratt’s Leo, dressed only in the nightshirt he was wearing when he was kidnapped, not as gaspable as a similar scene from last year. Not provocative, but his death in a bit of performing arts hangmanstill packs that punch.

In a short coda that jumps to the present, the actor, who played an old-time Confederate soldier and his lover, is a modern man as a young couple happily picnicking in the very spot where the plaque marks the location of Frank’s lynching. Takes the stage in a dress. It’s a deliberately ambiguous scene, and while it may be hopeful, it’s most likely not. , officially remains unresolved.

title: parade
venue: Bernard B. Jacobs Theater on Broadway
directed by: Michael Arden
Books: Alfred Woolley
music: Jason Robert Brown
cast: Ben Platt, Michaela Diamond, Alex Joseph Grayson, Sean Alan Krill, Howard McGillin, Paul Alexander Nolan, Jay Armstrong Johnson, Kelly Barrett, Courtney Carter, Eddie Cooper, Erin Rose Doyle, Tony Award nominees Manoel Ferciano, Daniel Lee Greaves, Douglas Lyons, Jake Pedersen, Florrie Bagel, Stacey Bono, Max Charnin, Emily Rose Demartino, Christopher Garr, Beth Kirkpatrick, Ashlyn Maddox, Sophia Manicone, William Michals, Jackson Teeley, Charlie Webb.

Execution time: Performance time 2 hours 30 minutes (including intermission)

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