PARADE To 17 September.

London.

PARADE
Music & lyrics by Jason Robert Brown book by Alfred Uhry.

Southwark Playhouse (The Vault) Shipwright Yard corner of Tooley St and Bermondsey St SE1 2TF To 17 September 2011.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat 3pm.
Runs 2hr 40min One interval.

TICKETS: 020 7407 0234.
www.southwarkplayhouse.co.uk
Review: Timothy Ramsden 20 August.

Parade is a hit, and not to be missed.
It’s easy to tell Parade is based on reality, for it defies Oscar Wilde’s definition of fiction, that the good end happily, the bad unhappily. In 1913, defeat in the American Civil War still rankling, the establishment in Atlanta, Georgia seized on the murder of a 13-year old factory-girl on Memorial day, to stab back at outsiders.

Public outcry meant that merely charging another Black man would be insufficient. So factory-manager Leo Frank, a New York Jew, was charged. The musical shows his trial and conviction, mired in local gossip and official threats and bribery.

As his wife Lucille fights to reveal flaws in the evidence, Frank shows himself far from sympathetic. The forces against him remain strong, and his wife’s main achievement is that Leo finally throws off the reserve he’d always brought to their married life.

Jason Robert Brown’s score, with its Sousa-soused anthemic numbers and contrasting expressions of personal emotions, made a strong impact, along with Alfred Uhry’s narrative drive when this 1998 musical arrived at London’s Donmar Warehouse. It’s equally powerful in Thom Southerland’s Southwark production, set between two banks of spectators in the small-scale Vault.

Every character makes their dramatic and musical mark, from the factory-girls, especially Jessica Bostock-Vines’ happily innocent victim Mary, to the main players. Alastair Brookshaw is nervily self-contained as Leo, Laura Pitt-Pulford, whose Lucille is the emotional centre of the piece, combines passion with control in singing and shows her character’s resourcefulness and commitment to a trying husband.

Samantha Seager charts the feelings of the dead girl’s mother, often on the sidelines, but with piercing sorrow in her main number, and a silent, smiling joy when given her dead girl’s dress, turning to horror as she finds it bloodstained. And Southerland makes clear the difference between the conscientious governor and judge and Hugh Dorsey’s forcefully smooth, politically ambitious prosecutor and Tom Watson as a right-wing rabble-rouser.

Terry Doe is splendid as witness Jim Conley; but this is a show where the whole company shines, in a musical where murder and bigotry cannot drown the vitality of character, however it manipulates events.

Essie: Kelly Agbowu.
Officer Staines/Tom Watson: Simon Bailey.
Lila/Mary Phagan: Jessica Bostock-Vines.
Leo Frank: Alastair Brookshaw.
Officer Ivey/Luther Rosser: Michael Cotton.
Newt Lee/Jim Conley/Riley: Terry Doe.
Monteen: Natalie Green.
Governor Slaton/Britt Craig/Mr Peavey: David Haydn.
Hugh Dorsey: Mark Inscoe.
Minnie McKnight/Angela: Abiona Omonua.
Lucille Frank: Laura Pitt-Pulford.
Old Soldier/Judge Roan: Philip Rham.
Mrs Phagan/Sally Slaton: Samantha Seager.
Iola Stover: Victoria Serra.
Young Soldier/Frankie Epps: Samuel J Weir.

Director: Thom Southerland.
Designer/Costume: John Riseboro.
Lighting: Howard Hudson.
Sound: Theo Holloway.
Musical Supervisor: Iain Vince-Gatt.
Musical Director: Michael Bradley.
Choreographer: Tim Jackson.
Dance Captain: Victoria Serra.
Associate costume: Sophie Howard.

2011-08-21 11:02:56

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