by Matthew Falduto
Photos by Von Presley Studios
Cedar Rapids – Continuing with their mission to bring lesser known musicals to stage, Revival Theatre Company will present Parade in Concert for one weekend only, November 12-14 (note it opens on Thursday) at 8 PM at the Scottish Rite Temple in Cedar Rapids.
It was not overly successful on Broadway, described by some as a “failed Broadway musical.” However as pointed out by Steven Suskin, factors other than creative contributed to its demise on Broadway and therefore is an excellent choice to be revived.
The phrase “failed Broadway musical” warrants a bit of an explanation. Parade opened to downbeat reviews and a less-than-enthusiastic audience response. (The show, mind you, relays the real-life tale of the murder of a child and the lynching of the apparently innocent defendant.) Produced as an offering of Lincoln Center Theater, it ran through its scheduled run and closed after a mere 84 official performances. That said, the show might have turned the proverbial corner had there been a financial cushion sufficient to keep things going until April, when Parade garnered a bouquet of nominations (nine Tony, 13 Drama Desk). At this very moment, though, Livent — which was billed with LCT above the title — began to show signs of the financial turmoil that would soon scuttle that gargantuan enterprise. With no guarantee of additional funds, the non-profit LCT had no choice but to close the show, with the Parade passing by on the final day of February.
Parade won Best Book and Best Score at the 1999 Tony award ceremony. Had it still been running on Broadway when the nominations were announced, it might not be a lesser known musical ripe for revival. It was revived in 2007 in the UK at the Donmar Warehouse and was successful, even making its way to LA in 2009 with T.R. Knight of Grey’s Anatomy fame in the lead role of Leo Frank.
Based on what artistic director Brian Glick told me a year ago, Parade fits in perfectly with their mission:
The type of shows Revival does are very specific. Our contemporary shows are what we call the “rare gems”; the shows that have an incredible score and script, but had a short-lived life in New York or Chicago. We have the opportunity to produce those here without so much of a risk. It’s really thrilling to hear comments from audiences who hadn’t heard or seen one of our contemporary shows and are blown away by the script and music. We’ve given a show new life and that’s exciting.
Revival provides this description:
In 1913, Leo Frank, a Brooklyn-raised Jew living in Georgia, is put on trial for the murder of 13-year-old Mary Phagan, a factory worker under his employ. Already guilty in the eyes of everyone around him, a sensationalist publisher and a janitor’s false testimony seal Leo’s fate. His only defenders are a governor with a conscience, and, eventually, his assimilated Southern wife who finds the strength and love to become his greatest champion.
Book by Alfred Uhry
Music and Lyrics by Jason Robert Brown
Co-Conceived and Directed on Broadway by Harold Prince
Based on the true story of Leo Frank.
Two Acts, Book Musical, Rated R
Click here for tickets: http://artsiowa.com/tickets/concerts/parade/.