Parade

Posted by: | Posted on: June 28, 2017

The Truth will set you free…Unfortunately not!

Don’t be fooled by the name of this play at Writers Theater because it’s no parade. This is a dramatic true story of anti-Semitism against a man named Leo Frank that wanted to live the American dream. Caught in a time when hatred could be wrapped up in patriot pride, we get a glimpse of how patriotism can be something more sinister and we learn from history that what was taking place in Atlanta Georgia during the dawn of the 20th century was not worth celebrating but investigating.

Leo Max Frank was an American factory superintendent at the National Pencil Company. He received his degree from Cornell University, moved to Atlanta in 1908, married in 1910 and became the president of the Jewish Atlanta fraternal chapter of the B’nai B’rith, in 1912; but in 1913 his life took a drastic change. During this time antisemitism was not a widespread issue however in Atlanta, there was a growing concern regarding child labor practices at factories owned by members of the Jewish community and one of these children was named Mary Phagan; who was found dead in the basement where Frank worked.

“Parade” is a musical that focuses on the 1913 trial of Jewish factory superintendent Leo Frank. Set on Confederate Memorial Day Leo Frank was falsely accused of raping and murdering “Lil Mary Phagan” a 13-year-old factory worker at the pencil factory in Atlanta, Georgia. The trial sensationalized by the media aroused anti-Semitic tensions in Atlanta and the U.S. state of Georgia.

Riveting and Gripping

Resentment of Northerners coming to the South along with the growing anger over having to work for a Jew owner caused a lot of conflict within the already depressed community.  The death of Mary Phagan, a young teen that was last seen going to get her check from Mr. Frank was the spark that caused the city to become a major news phenomenon and the focal point for and against anti-Semitism.

Depending on how and who you heard the story from, the tale of two Leo Frank’s quickly emerged. Atlanta’s working class saw Frank as “a defiler of young girls”, while the German-Jewish community saw him as “an exemplary man and loyal husband.

Director Gary Griffin under the musical direction of Michael Mahler miraculously delivered a murder mystery, a courtroom drama that was thrilling and suspenseful. The singing from the performers was magnificent and purely amazing. It definitely added to the dramatization and aided into the powerful retelling of the tragic of Leo Frank; a tragic case which quickly became the trial of the century of lies, distortions, and misrepresentation to sentence a man solely of ethnicities.

Parade had all of the unusual suspects starting with the unscrupulous prosecutor (Kevin Gudahl), a racist publisher (Jeff Parker), and an opportunistic newspaper reporter (Devin DeSantis) who saw this murder as the crime of the century and a way to revive their careers by combining false evidence, unsubstantiated rumors, and journalistic speculation to whip the community and the population at large into a lynch-happy mob in the state of Georgia. Another notable character worth mentioning is Jonathan Butler-Duplessis (Jim Conley) who has several key moments in the musical “Parade” as the ex-convict janitor. His jail scene performance was priceless.

 A Moving Love Story

Even though Parade is a gripping musical murder trial about Leo Frank, (Patrick Andrews) who played Leo, was patrick-andrews-and-brianna-borger-vert-1outstanding with his portrayal of a man that refused to admit guilt against inexplicable odds of ignorance and prejudice; it is also a love story between Leo and Lucille Frank (Brianna Borger). Their relationship started off a little strained, however, in the midst of the trial and the fight for his life, a beautiful love story unfolds; Unfortunately, love doesn’t conquer all in the story.

The tragic ending of Leo Frank will forever be etched in our history books, becoming the only known Jew lynched in the long sad history of the American South. Hopefully, we can learn from our tragic past to never repeat a wretched outcome.

This musical was extraordinary and we “Highly Recommend” that you get tickets and see it.
The cast includes:

Larry Adams (Old Soldier/Judge Roan/Ensemble)

Patrick Andrews (Leo Frank)

Brianna Borger (Lucille Frank)

Jonathan Butler-Duplessis (Jim Conley)

McKinley Carter (Mrs. Phagan/Sally Slaton)

Devin DeSantis (Britt Craig/Young Soldier/Ensemble)

Kevin Gudahl (Hugh Dorsey/Ensemble)

Derek Hasenstab (Governor John Slaton/Ensemble)

Nicole Michelle Haskins (Minola “Minnie” McKnight/Angela)

Caroline Heffernan (Mary Phagan/Ensemble)

Lindsay Maron (Essie/Ensemble)

Zoe Nadal (Monteen/Ensemble)

Jake Nicholson (Frankie Epps/Ensemble)

Jeff Parker (Tom Watson/Ensemble)

Leryn Turlington (Iola Stover/Ensemble)

Jonah D. Winston(Newt Lee/Riley).

 

Writers Theatre Presents

Parade

Book by Alfred Uhry

Music and Lyrics by Jason Robert Brown

Co-conceived by Harold Prince

Music Direction by Michael Mahler

Choreography by Ericka Mac

Directed by Gary Griffin

Now through July 15, 2017

 





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