“Parade” is a paralyzing, captivating musical that truly puts into perspective what can come from hating someone who is different from you. Leo Frank is a Jewish man from Brooklyn, married to a Jewish woman and living in Georgia in the 1800s. A college graduate who mostly keeps to himself, he becomes a victim of ignorance, hatred, lies, and violence when he is accused of murdering a 13-year-old girl in the pencil factory he manages. This musical, sadly based on a true historical event, features a stunning book by Alfred Uhry and dynamic, penetrating music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown. The lyrics not only poignantly succeed in expressing the characters’ emotions, but serve to smoothly move the story along. 

“Parade” was co-conceived by the late Harold Prince and is a testament to his superb talent.

The audience is introduced to the Confederate soldiers of Georgia and its Confederate-flag–toting, hatred-spewing white population. Leo is uncomfortable in his surroundings and comes across as cold to people in the community. He is accused of murdering this teenager, and what happens afterward is truly devastating. It is interesting to see how a judicial system and a town full of Confederate racists go after someone and use any means necessary to destroy them.

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It is stunning to watch Leo move through different emotional stages when he is accused of this horrible crime. It is also intriguing to watch the interactions between him and his wife, Lucille, and how their relationship as a couple begins to grow.

The hatred spewed by the community is toxic. Sadly, though, it is still timely to watch, when we look at what is currently going on in our society with its continuing occurrences of anti-semitic violence. The ignorance, discrimination, and abuse that Black people suffered at the hands of the whites in this racist town are turned onto Leo, and they come at him with all barrels blazing. To see anyone railroaded hurts me deeply.

This musical will give you food for thought, move you on different levels, and truly make you realize that this is history, especially as it introduces characters on stage and shows photos of the real people they are depicting. You get to learn the parts that everyone played in the tragedy that befell Leo Frank.

The cast is splendid. Ben Platt gives a sterling performance as Leo—a man who has to struggle with so much and under the worst of circumstances—and practically explodes on the stage. Micaela Diamond is a shining gem as his wife Lucille. Diamond delivers a powerhouse performance, and her character’s growth within this musical is admirable. 

Featured members of the cast gave marvelous performances that gripped the soul: Sean Allan Krill, Howard McGillin, Paul Alexander Nolan, Jay Armstrong Johnson, Kelli Barrett, Courtnee Carter, Eddie Cooper, Erin Rose Doyle, Manuel Felciano, Danielle Lee Greaves, Douglas Lyons, and Jake Pedersen. 

Another featured actor I must spotlight is Alex Joseph Grayson, who delivers a commanding performance in the role of Jim Conley. 

The remaining ensemble of actors lend themselves to the power and the impact of telling this tale. You will remember this story for a long time to come because of the incredible way they cohesively bring it to life. 

You will also enjoy the brilliant direction of Michael Arden. 

“Parade” features scenic design by Dane Laffrey, costume design by Susan Hilferty, lighting by Heather Gilbert, sound by Jon Weston, projection by Sven Ortel, and musical direction by Thomas Murray. “Parade” is playing at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre on W. 45th Street. Line up and get your tickets! For more info, visit www.paradebroadway.com.

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