In Atlanta, Georgia in 1913, a Jewish man from Brooklyn stands accused of the murder of a young factory worker. Based on the true story of Leo Frank convicted of the murder of 13-year-old Mary Phagan, Parade recalls the press frenzy and public hate surrounding the trial, and Lucille Frank’s crusade for justice for her husband.
Bertie Carvel and Lara Pulver star as husband and wife Leo and Lucille Frank, in a cast that also features Helen Anker, Gary Milner, Mark Bonnar, Norman Bowman and Shaun Escoffery. The musical has music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown and a book by Alfred Uhry, co-conceived by its original director Harold Prince. The Donmar production is directed and choreographed by Rob Ashford, marking his directorial debut, and designed by Christopher Oram.
The negative judgement of the New York Times may have cut Parade’s life short on Broadway, but London’s first night critics have heartily welcomed the musical’s arrival on this side of the Atlantic. They all applauded book writer Alfred Uhry’s ability to tackle a serious subject and make it utterly “gripping”, and admired Jason Robert Brown’s “powerful” score, with inevitable, and usually favourable, comparisons drawn between Brown and his American elder, Stephen Sondheim. There was praise too for Rob Ashford’s “extremely well cast” production, in particular leads Bertie Carvel and Lara Pulver. Despite the furore over musicals taking over Theatreland, there’s not a single note of opposition to this one - Parade, say the critics, is “a musical of real substance”, a “must-see”.
- by Tom Atkins