Every now and then a musical comes along that is at once beautifully entertaining, heart-breaking, and thought-provoking. Jason Robert Brown (music and lyrics) and Alfred Uhry (book)'s Parade is one of those rare gems, and Ford's (along with Theatre J) does a brilliant job with it.
Going in, I knew little about the actual story. I have the soundtrack and think it's utterly beautiful - particularly "This is Not Over Yet" - but wasn't sure what to expect, plot-wise. The fantastically amazing cast, led by Tony-nominee Euan Morton and Jenny Fellner, swept me into the world so deftly, I barely felt the 2 hours and 45 minutes go by. Stirring ensemble songs and heartfelt solos brought me to tears, not to mention the end of the show. Seriously. I won't go into much of the story, since I hope you'll see it for yourself, but besides being an exquisite production, it also raised some interesting questions for me.
Early in the show, a young girl is murdered in the building where Leo Frank works. Several people are considered suspects, though Frank is the main one. Bear in mind that Leo is a college-educated Jewish man from Brooklyn, New York, living in Atlanta, Georgia. I don't know how much you know about Southerners, but we are not always the most welcoming people - especially of Yankees, and that bias was particularly prevalent during the 20s, when this show takes place. From the events shown, I wonder how many of the police officers on the case actually believed that Leo was guilty, and how many wanted him to be guilty because he was an outsider. There was nothing but circumstantial evidence surrounding the case, but that didn't stop anyone in the town from making Leo into the villain. If and when you see the show, let me know what your thoughts are - I'd be really interested to see if it raises the same questions for anyone else.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention a couple of utterly outstanding performances. Kevin McAllister, who plays several parts, was extraordinary. Each of his three different characters was well thought-out and completely separate from the others. He's also got an incredible voice which I very much hope to hear more of. If he doesn't get some kind of award for this show, that's literally going to be a crime. Also, Euan Morton as Leo Frank. You may or may not know that Euan is originally from Scotland and he's got the accent to prove it. While his Russian accent in Signature Theatre's production of Chess last year wasn't particularly up to snuff, you might be fooled into believing that he's actually a Jewish New Yorker with the accent he's got this time. It's also rather incredible to watch his character's journey through the length of the show. He starts in a very different place than where he ends up, particularly in his relationship with his wife, Lucille.
Overall, I am ecstatic that this show has come to DC, and Ford's does a very commendable job with a tough subject matter. 4.5 stars
book by Alfred Uhly
music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown
directed by Stephen Rayne
511 10th Street NW
Washington, DC 20004
September 23 - October 30
Ford's Theatre offers a limited number of discounts for patrons age 35 and under. Tickets are $15 for Parade. Patrons may use the promo code UNDER35 when purchasing in advance through Ticketmaster at 800.982.2787 or www.fords.org. Limit of six per person.
Patrons must show ID at the Ford's Theatre box office. Ticketmaster orders will incur Ticketmaster order charges. Discounts are not available on previously purchased tickets, and are not available for groups of 20 or more.
Available dates for discounted tickets are:
October 2, 2pm and 730pm
October 4, 730pm
October 9, 2pm and 730pm
October 11, 730pm
October 16, 2pm and 730pm
October 23, 2pm and 730pm
October 25, 730pm
October 30, 2pm