After years of bluffing this question in musical theatre circles, I was finally given the opportunity to learn what the hype is really about. So of course, I jumped at the chance to go get my Southern Belle on and see Jason Robert Brown’s revered musical down at the London Theatre Workshop in Fulham.
The London Theatre Workshop is a very welcoming venue – seating is a little on the cosy side, which really only exposes the opportunity to have a good chat with your neighbour before curtain-up.
From start to finish, Jody Tranter’s staging of Parade packs a mighty powerful punch. With music and lyrics from Jason Robert Brown and book from Alfred Uhry, Parade tells us the true and very moving story of Leo Frank (Ross Barnes), a New York Jew uprooted to the state of Georgia in the early 1900s who finds himself accused of the murder of thirteen-year-old Mary Phagan (Kerry Loosemore) which took place in his factory. Tranter’s direction in this piece is superb and expertly carries through the very poignant message of love and justice and how each can go awry.
The thirteen-strong cast manage to fill the intimate stage space without seeming cramped, not even during the whirls and lifts of Adam Scown’s slick and jaunty choreography. Vocal performances are technically sound as every cast member proves a talented singer and engaging actor. Standout performances come from Lily de-la-Haye (whose interview with Theatre South East can be found here) and Ross Barnes in the roles of Lucille and Leo Frank respectively.
Their final duet, ‘All The Wasted Time’, is particularly touching and arguably one of the highlights of this consistently class act. A nice contrast is provided earlier in ‘That’s What He Said’, an all-singing, all-dancing, all-set-revolving number delivered by actor Michael Moulton as the wonderfully sassy but never overdone Jim Conley, Frank’s most vocal accuser at the trial. The emotional ups and downs of this excellent piece of musical theatre carry us through to the powerful ending.
Overall, this is an outstanding production; swiftly paced, expertly performed and completely deserving of the standing ovation it received.
Reviewer : Jemma Gould