Earning the most Tony nominations, nine (and taking home two awards, for book and original score), was an honest-to-goodness new American musical by a young American composer-lyricist, Jason Robert Brown (who was 28 when the show premiered at Lincoln Center in December 1998 and was best known for his song cycle Songs for a New World). In addition, the subject matter is serious and dark, based on the true story of Leo Frank, a New York-born Jew living in Atlanta who was falsely accused of raping and murdering a young girl, and not surprisingly, the run was limited to 84 performances.
The original cast recording survives, however, and from the stirring opening anthem, "The Old Red Hills of Home," Brown's score is full of riches, mixing period American styles with strong melodies, intricate counterpoint, selective dissonances, and natural lyrics that give their characters true, expressive voices. Leading the strong ensemble cast are Tony nominees Brent Carver and Carolee Carmello as the persecuted Leo and his wife, Lucille, who had been drifting apart before the wrenching events pulled them back together. They express their relationship in some of the show's best songs ("Leo at Work/What Am I Waiting For," "You Don't Know This Man," "All the Wasted Time"). Masterfully evoking scene and character through his beautiful, bouncy, or harrowing music, Brown depicts youthful abandon ("The Picture Show"), the city's hysteria, the tender memories of the girl's mourners ("It Don't Make Sense"), and the murder trial, including its fantasy scenes of false testimony. Parade is a powerful work that will long linger in your memory, and it's one of the most important musical theater releases of 1999.
It has been fun working with these kids. My good friend Carolyn Brady is Director/Musical Director. The amazing Kevin Bellie (I have done most of my shows at Circle Theatre under is direction/choreography) usually choreographs these shows but had a heavy schedule this time around so I stepped in. I really think I did some good work here and the kids really stepped upto the plate. This show opens March 6, 2008.