×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Parade

The demanding, widely underappreciated 1994 tuner "Parade" may be coming into its own. An acclaimed 2007 revival at London's Donmar Warehouse was scaled down in scope even as it ratcheted up the intensity.

With:
Leo Frank - Craig D'Amico Lucille Frank - Emily Olson Hugh Dorsey - Michael Hovance Gov. John Slaton - Michael Tatlock Britt Craig - James Larsen Jim Conley - Tareek Lee Holmes Luther Rosser - Michael Prohaska Newt Lee - Loren Smith

The demanding, widely underappreciated 1994 tuner “Parade” may be coming into its own. An acclaimed 2007 revival at London’s Donmar Warehouse was scaled down in scope even as it ratcheted up the intensity. On its heels, the L.A. professional premiere from the South Bay’s Neighborhood Playhouse demonstrates the material’s suitability for a chamber ensemble approach, bringing out two potent narratives about prejudice: that between the community and the outsider, and that between spouses.

Helmer Brady Schwind refuses to reduce the tragedy of Leo Frank (a crisp, compelling Craig D’Amico), the New York Jewish executive charged in Atlanta with little Mary Phagan’s murder, and lynched in 1915, to a mere anti-Southern screed.

Certainly these townspeople possess a vicious blind spot when it comes to outsiders, a sentiment Leo returns; “they belong in zoos,” he hisses. But Frank’s railroading is scarier and more realistic when carried out by ordinary folk, not cartoon ogres. (This approach does hit a snag when it’s time for mob hysteria; these genteel folk gather to light torches because of plot demands, not inner need.)

Another case of cruel intolerance unfolds at the same time: Leo’s contempt for Southern-born wife Lucille (Emily Olson), she of bowed head and cringing demeanor. Thesps and helmer alike deserve kudos for carefully charting the path whereby Lucille, striving to prove Leo’s innocence, raises herself to full partnership to his joyous recognition.

Schwind takes advantage of the facility’s low-ceilinged room with wood paneling and spinning fans to seat us in three-quarter thrust inside a courtroom thriller. Alfred Uhry’s libretto proves sturdily capable of building suspense, even for those who know the outcome.

Numerous performers embrace nuance over cliche, notably Michael Prohaska as Leo’s good-ol’-boy attorney; James Larsen, embodying the town’s alcoholic, amoral newshound in both acting and dance; and Loren Smith and Tareek Lee Holmes, who offer fully realized portrayals as the two key African-American trial witnesses, the halting, troubled janitor Newt (Smith) and the slyly strutting Jim Conley (Holmes).

Only Michael Hovance’s constant smirk as prosecutor Dorsey smacks of easy caricature. His utter certainty about the outcome reduces tension, whereas an iron will to mete out justice might draw us in.

Musical director David Sateren does well by the lushly varied score in which Brown weaves a complex skein of influences from ragtime to jazz to blues, from the cakewalk to the slow drag. Choreographer Imara Quinonez incorporates numerous styles into her movement, and Karen Cornejo costumes the troupe handsomely, but lighting is murky and unfocused.

Popular on Variety

Parade

Neighborhood Church, Palos Verdes Estates; 104 seats; $35 top

Production: A Neighborhood Playhouse presentation of a musical in two acts with music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown and book by Alfred Uhry, co-conceived and directed on Broadway by Harold Prince. Directed by Brady Schwind. Choreography, Imara Quinonez.

Crew: Sets, Michael Tushaus; costumes, Karen Cornejo; lighting, Alisha Herrick; music director, David Sateren; sound, Michael Juneau; stage managers, Nancy Ling, Shannon Kelly. Opened July 10, 2008. Reviewed July 13. Runs through July 20. Running time: 2 HOURS, 50 MIN.

Cast: Leo Frank - Craig D'Amico Lucille Frank - Emily Olson Hugh Dorsey - Michael Hovance Gov. John Slaton - Michael Tatlock Britt Craig - James Larsen Jim Conley - Tareek Lee Holmes Luther Rosser - Michael Prohaska Newt Lee - Loren SmithWith: Marcy Agreen, Ryan Amador, Alissa Anderegg, Keith Barletta, Rachel Baumsten, Tawny Dolly, Megan Dorn-Wallenstein, David Fairchild, Laura M. Hathaway, Ian Littleworth, Lizzie Jester, Ross Love, Alison Matizza, Carly Menkin, Rashel Mereness, Leslie Morris, Chris O'Connor, Jessica Plotin, Aileen-Marie Scott, Michael Tushaus, Gordon Wells.

More Scene

  • US record producer The-Dream arrives for

    Top Music Publishers Come Together for Songs of Hope Honors

    The 15th annual Songs of Hope honors united songwriters, music industry insiders and more than a few preeminent doctors at producer Alex Da Kid’s Sherman Oaks compound on Thursday night. Jimmy Jam returned to host the event, which served as a fundraiser for the ever-vital City of Hope medical treatment center as well as a [...]

  • Renee Zellweger Rufus Wainwright Sam Smith

    Renée Zellweger: Judy Garland Was 'My Childhood Hero'

    Awards buzz is building around Renée Zellweger for her performance as Judy Garland, emerging as a frontrunner in the Oscar race for best actress. But for her, the real prize was paying tribute to Garland, of whom she’s been a lifelong fan. “Nobody was prettier, nobody sang prettier…the adventures she had, [she was] my childhood [...]

  • Keke Palmer BlogHer19 Summit

    Keke Palmer Brought to Tears Accepting Truth Teller Award at #BlogHer19 Creators Summit

    Keke Palmer stood surprised and wide-mouthed on the #BlogHer19 Creators Summit stage as she was presented with the Truth Teller Award for her recent acting work — and her viral “sorry to this man” clip. “This means so much,” the multi-hyphenated star softly whispered as she got teary-eyed upon accepting the award. Last week, the [...]

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 19:

    Emmys 2019: Inside All the Hottest Pre-Parties

    It’s (Emmys) party time! Before the 71st annual Emmys go live on Sunday, stars and execs are keeping busy by party-hopping in the days leading up to the big show. Here, Variety gives you the inside details on who was where and what they were doing. Keep checking back right here throughout the weekend for [...]

  • Jennifer Lopez Green Dress

    Jennifer Lopez Closes Out Versace Show in Famous Green Grammys Dress

    Jennifer Lopez has found her way back into the Versace dress that broke the internet in 2000. The “Hustlers” star closed out Versace’s Spring 2020 show in a re-worked version of the revealing, bright green silk chiffon dress that she wore to the Grammy Awards 20 years ago. The dress quickly became a pop-culture phenomenon, [...]

  • 10 Storytellers to Watch

    Variety Celebrates Inaugural 10 Storytellers to Watch Event

    Storytellers from across the spectrum of entertainment — film, literature, podcasting and play writing — were honored Thursday at Variety’s inaugural 10 Storytellers to Watch luncheon at Gramercy Park Hotel, hosted with partner the Independent Filmmaker Project and presented by Audible. Honorees Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, author of “Friday Black”; “Limetown” podcasters Zack Akers and Skip Bronkie; [...]

  • Demi Moore Corporate Animals

    Demi Moore Teases Upcoming Memoir 'Inside Out,' Talks 'Corporate Animals' Team Bonding

    As Demi Moore gears up for the Sept. 24 release of her autobiography “Inside Out,” the actress says she feels like a weight has been lifted. “Even the stuff that I may have been nervous about is completely lifting…because it’s a process,” Moore told Variety at the premiere of her upcoming film “Corporate Animals” at [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content