by Sydney Smith
For many musical theater devotees, PARADE exists only in their minds, through the Original Broadway Cast recording. Now, Leo Frank’s story takes center stage at this New York City Center gala production led by Tony Award winner Ben Platt and Michaela Diamond. Anchored by a sensational orchestra (led by the musical’s Tony Award winning composer, Jason Robert Brown), this production, rehearsed in just eight days, confirms stager Michael Arden’s rise as one of the most exciting new artists in the American musical theatre, a capstone for him after his imaginatively reinterpreted productions of “Once On This Island” and “Spring Awakening”. An impressive ensemble of 30 actors brings this powerful but sad story to vivid life…. In today’s times, with antisemitism on the rise, the story of a Jew wrongfully convicted in a post-Confederate South, holds an elevated sense of profoundness for the audience. This production of PARADE, which only runs thru the weekend, deserves to be seen.