Saturday, January 08, 2011

Parade

I went to my first Meetup in Toronto tonight and saw Parade, a musical based on the true crime story set in 1913 Atlanta of Leo Frank, a Jewish supervisor from "up North" Brooklyn who's accused of murdering Mary Phagan, a 13 year old white factory employee.  The trial was sensationalized by the media, resulting in Frank's conviction in the eyes of the public.  Despite conflicting statements from eyewitnesses, including the black janitor who was coaxed to confess that he had helped hide Mary's body, and the lack of physical evidence connecting Frank to the murder, the all-white jurors convicted Frank and sentenced him to death.

Leo Frank
Appeals by Frank's lawyers were denied all the way to the US Supreme Court, but he was finally granted a reprieve by the outgoing Governor of Georgia who, after a detailed review of the evidence and testimony, decided that Frank had not been granted a fair trial.  His death sentence was commuted to life in prison, where Frank was kidnapped by a lynching party who took him to Mary's hometown of Marietta, Georgia and hanged him from an oak tree.

Now, I don't know about you, but when I see the word musical, I think upbeat stories with happy endings which this clearly is not - this intrigued me enough to go see it.  And I'm glad I did because it was quite good although I was a little bothered by the music - the lyrics and melody were fine but the accompanying music didn't fit at times. 

Mary Phagan
On the company - the cast was generally solid with some standouts although one for the wrong reason - Micheal Therriault, the actor who played Leo Frank was very familiar to me and I realized afterwards it was because I recognized him from his role as Leopold Bloom in The Producers - I really enjoyed his number called Come Up to My Office during one of the trial scenes.  Daren A. Herbert who played the dual roles of the night watchman and janitor had a great tenor and I loved his rough bravado in character as the sometime convict-janitor.  Jay Turvey was another favourite as the Governor and reporter.  Amongst the actresses, I liked Alana Hibbert who played the maid and Jessica Greenberg who was the tragic Mary rather adorably.  On the flip side, Tracy Michailidis who played Frank's wife didn't seem to have a strong enough voice to project throughout the small theatre.  I was a bit distracted by how it seemed like she had to strain to make herself heard and finally there was Jeff Irving who, though he had a fine voice, over-acted to the point of annoyance. 

In the final analysis, it was a fun way to spend a Friday night: I saw some interesting theatre, met some new people and am looking forward to attending the next meetup - of which there are already 31 to choose from, over a third of them in the next 2 months! Fun times ahead!

If you're interested in checking Parade out for yourself, it's on at the Berkeley Street Theatre until January 22.

1 comment:

Kelly @ JAX does design said...

That's a very intriguing story - definitely not the kind of story you would expect a musical to be based upon!

Thanks for sharing your review of Parade.

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