You only have until November 6 to see New York City Center’s presentation of “Parade” at 131 W 55th Street. The musical features a book by Alfred Uhry, music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown and direction by Michael Arden. It looks at a very important moment in history. It tells the story of Leo Frank and his wife Lucille, a Jewish couple living in Atlanta, Georgia and his 1913 murder trial, conviction, appeal and eventual lynching. The musical has a love story, but reveals the pitfalls in the justice system. The musical stars an all-star cast with Micaela Diamond as Lucille, Ben Platt as Leo, along with Florrie Bagel, Stacie Bono, Courtnee Carter; Max Chernin, Eddie Cooper, John Dossett, Erin Rose Doyle, Manoel Felciano; Brody Grant, Danielle Lee Greaves, Christopher Gurr, Jay Armstrong Johnson, Sean Allan Krill, Douglas Lyons, Erin Mackey, Ashley Maddox, Sophia Manicone, Gaten Matarazzo, Howard McGillin, William Michals, Paul Alexander Nolan, Sofie Paliakoff, Jackson Teeley, Jennifer Laura Thompson and Alex Joseph Grayson who plays Jim Conley. Grayson, who is making his New York City Center debut took time during rehearsal to speak to AmNews.
Pondering what attracted him to the musical Grayson said, “It’s a true story. Playing someone that actually lived presents a challenge that I’ve always wanted as an actor.” Although the musical is set in 1931, the message is still timely. “This snapshot of American history closely resembles the events that led to Jan. 6th. Technology has changed, but the racially prejudice sensibilities have not,” Grayson shared.
His character of Jim Conley has a very distinctive function in this musical. Considering the part, the actor shared, “He is a pawn in a criminal justice ‘game of thrones.’ Jim is also a Black man living in a historically dangerous time for Black Americans. He finds joy in spite of that reality.” He also contributes to the story as Grayson explained, “Jim gives damning testimony in the Leo Frank trial. And he has fun in the process!”
Considering this being his City Center debut, Grayson said, “I feel so honored to be a part of this company. The artists I share the stage with are so good at what they do. It’s overwhelming at times. I’m also excited to share my gifts with the audiences that choose to join us.” Bringing home the message of the musical, Grayson shared he wants the audience to come away with this thought: “Be cautious of bigotry in all forms.”
The musical has a marvelous technical team that consists of scenic designer Dane Laffrey; costume designer Susan Hilferty, lighting designer Heather Gilbert, sound designer Scott Lehrer, choreographer Cree Grant, projection designer Sven Ortel and music director Tom Murray.
The musical, which began on November 1 and will run a total of only seven performances, will raise money that allows City Center to provide access to the performing arts by subsidizing education programs and affordable tickets throughout the year. If you have ever been to a production at the New York City Center, then you know that you’re in for a treat. The productions they present are only the highest of quality and give off such contagious energy and excitement. Please make plans to go and see “Parade”! New York City Center is located on 55th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues, for tickets call 212-581-1212 or go to NYCityCenter.org.