Saturday December 16th 2017

“Parade”

How fortunate the Chicago “theater scene” is to have Writers Theatre here. This amazing company, under the leadership of Michael Halberstam and Kathryn M. Lipuma, is now presenting the powerful  “chamber musical”, “Parade” on its main stage. Based on a true story, with a book by Alfred Uhry , music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown and co-conceived by Harold Prince, “Parade” is the story of Leo Frank, a Brooklyn born Jew, who was falsely accused of murder in Atlanta in the early 1900’s. It is both a moving love story, a riveting murder-mystery and a look at the justice and injustice of the era in which it took place. It is also a look at prejudice and ignorance and while it took place over 100 years ago, there are still those that live with the same ideals as the people of that time.

FYI- A “chamber musical” is one that is unlike the typical musical or musical comedy. The songs are not stand alone. They are an important part of the story-telling. In fact, from the very start, a sort of verbal overture, the audience is never sure where or when to applaud. There are so many places where one wants to clap for the brilliant work that this production brings forth, and yet, they are in awe of what they just heard or saw, and can’t . This is okay in a “chamber piece”, as the intimacy of the production almost begs us to sit on our hands. This story is one that keeps our focus on the characters from start to finish!

What makes this production even brighter is that it is directed by Gary Griffin, who is a master of bringing a story to an audience and keeping their interest from start to finish. He has assembled a cast that is sheer perfection, starting with the Frank family, Leo (Patrick Andrews is wonderful) and Lucille ( Brianna Borger in a role she was born to play) and then the wonderful ensemble of players, many of whom play several roles; Larry Adams, Jonathan Butler-Duplessis, McKinley Carter, Devin DeSantis, Kevin Gudhal, Derek Hasenstab, Nicole Michelle Haskins, Caroline Hefferman, Zoe Nadal, Jake Nicholson, Jeff Parker,  Leryn Turlington, Jonah D. Winston and Lindsay Maron. These 14 performers fill the stage with their characters, their amazing vocal and acting talents . This is a MUST SEE production!

Musical Direction for this production is by Michael Mahler and the choreography  is Ericka Mac. Scott Davis has designed a set that allows two levels and ease of changing scenes so we never lose the flow of the action. The orchestra of 9 musicians led by Matt Deitchman, is offstage and the only way the actors see the conductor is through a wall mounted TV monitor above the audience, which by the way is not distracting in the least. Christine Binder’s lighting is in keeping with the moods of the scenes and Ray Nardelli has made sure that the sound is perfect no matter where you are seated. One of the beautiful aspects of the Writers Theatre is that the elevation of the seating allows for full view for every audience member (no head bobbing and hoping a tall person does not sit in front of you). The costumes by Mara Blumenfeld and the props by Scott Dickens along with the fight choreography by Matt Hawkins, complete the tech aspects of this fine-tuned production, one that I am sure will earn many Jeff nominations.

Despite the story being about anti-Semitism and some general racial undertones, it is one that bears viewing and discussing. Are things different 100 years later? Are there still people who feel that the Jewish people are “different”?  There is an old adage that says “the more things change, the more they stay the same”. This is true of racial relations as well as religious, and this story deals with the hatred that caused the Anti-Defamation League to come to being. I do not want to give away the beautiful story-line and the ending, so I will just tell you that the love story between Leo and Lucille is special ,and in their story one can learn a great deal about true love. I am suggesting that you do a bit of research on the history if you feel that there is a need to know “the rest of the story” prior to enjoying a top-notch mucial, but I suggest that you find a way to see this production which will run through July 2nd (possibly an extension?) at Writers Theatre located at 325 Tudor Court in Glencoe with performances as follows:

Tuesdays  7:30 p.m.

Wednesdays  7:30 p.m.

Thursdays  7:30 p.m.

Fridays  7:30 p.m.

Saturdays  3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Sundays  2 p.m. and 6 p.m. (no eves on 6/18 and 7/2)

Wednesday matinees on 6/14 and 28 at 2 p.m.)

Running time 2 hours and 30 minutes with one intermission. NOTE; this is the quickest 2 1/2 hours you will ever sit through as it moves well.

To order tickets call 847-242-6000 or visit www.writerstheatre.org

SPECIAL EVENTS:

Visit the writers website for all of the special events tied to this production  www.writerstheatre.org/events

to see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at “Parade”.

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