It’s hard to believe that when the Tony award winning musical Parade opened on Broadway it was a flop, as this show is one of the great musical works of the past 20 years. With its beautiful score by Jason Robert Brown and a marvellous book by Alfred Uhry, Parade is a thrilling and heartbreaking piece of theatre but not exactly the kind of show that you would think a Youth Theatre group would do. However, that is exactly what makes The Company who produced this show at The Lowry so exciting.
Parade is based on the true story of the Jewish factory manager Leo Frank who was accused and convicted of the murder of a 13 year old girl and the trial that followed.
This is a stunning yet simple production by an excellent team who have delivered something truly incredible. The cast may be youths but within five minutes, you forget that fact as they deliver performances that would put many touring show cast members to shame.
Ben Occhipinti directs with great passion and understanding of the material and the narrative breezes along with ease. In fact, every detail of this show hits the spot perfectly; it’s a truly amazing achievement by all involved and something that will stick with me for a long time.
All the cast do a wonderful job of bringing their roles to life, from the ensemble whose collective singing is spectacular to the lead roles. However Stewart Clarke as Leo Frank delivers a truly unforgettable turn, a mature, well balanced, thought provoking, heart wrenching performance and he has a fantastic singing voice to top it all off. I predict this young man has a huge career ahead of him, as does Jamie Taylor who gives one of the night's finest performances as Britt Craig the reporter who gets the story of a lifetime. Praise is due though to the entire cast as they do an exceptional job and I wish I could mention them all.
The whole team at The Company deserve a longer run and to move this show to other venues as it’s something that has to be seen to be believed. And thank god for companies like this who really know how to get the best young talent out there and give them a production like this to shine in, no other Youth Theatre Company comes close to these.
The Company's Parade is stunning and deserves to return to the region very soon.