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Review: Parade

Bigotry, set to beautiful music

The Vault, Southwark Playhouse, London SE1

    Parade: a hard-hitting musical which targets Southern antisemitism
    Parade: a hard-hitting musical which targets Southern antisemitism

    London got its first Parade in 2007 when Jason Robert Brown's and Alfred Uhry's hard-hitting musical, full of Southern manners and Georgia antisemitism, was staged at the Donmar. The true story at the show's core concerns the 1913 trial of Leo Frank, a Brooklyn Jew wrongly convicted by an Atlanta jury of murdering a 13-year-old girl. But the relationship at its heart is between two very different kinds of Jew - the nebbish Leo (Alastair Brookshaw) and his wife, Georgia girl Lucille (Laura Pitt-Pulford).

    Uhry's and Brown's version portrays a frosty marriage chilled by the emotionally remote Leo. But in Thom Southerland's powerfully sung production, set in the rather too echoing vaults near London Bridge station, more could have been made of the marriage's thaw.

    Lucille's transition from high society girl to stalwart spouse is key here, and Pitt-Pulford is too much of a homebody from the start to make this work as fully as it should.

    But she sings superbly, Brookshaw is pitch-perfect as the pinched Leo, and Terry Doe as the guilty janitor is a talent to watch. Meanwhile, Brown's score brilliantly reveals conflicts and complexity by setting the bigotry and lies that resulted in a travesty of justice to irresistibly seductive melodies.

The Jewish Chronicle

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