Stage Page – PARADE reveals how prejudice, fake news can sway public

The courtroom explodes when Leo Frank's guilty verdict is read. Photo credit: Caught in the Moment Photography

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3-D Theatricals presents "PARADE" Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts June 1-10. Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center June 15-24. Pictured: E.E. BELL, JEFF SKOWRON and THE CAST

 

3-D Theatricals (3DT) brings the Multiple LA Ovation Award-Winning Production of Jason Robert Brown and Alfred Uhry’s Tony Award-Winning Musical PARADE, the historic courtroom murder mystery, back to Los Angeles in a remarkable, Broadway-quality production.  Filled with enough star power and technical expertise to dazzle every audience member, the production currently at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center is by far the best production of this difficult-to-produce musical I have ever seen.

Parade is a tragic and true story of Brooklyn-born Jewish factory manager Leo Frank who, in 1913, was accused of raping and murdering a 13-year-old employee, Mary Phagan. Already guilty in the eyes of those around him simply because he was Jewish, the dramatic courtroom trial sensationalized by the media, aroused anti-Semitic tensions in Atlanta and the state of Georgia, resulting in the re-birth of the Klu Klux Klan and the creation of the Anti-Defamation League to protect the rights and freedoms of Jewish people.

When you receive your show program, be sure to take the time to thoroughly read the study guide provided inside which gives great information to assist you in understanding the timeframe of the musical and why the Leo Frank case is widely viewed as the worst case of anti-Semitism in American history. This real-life tragedy, though heart-breaking, serves as a reminder of the importance of true justice, the horror of racial or religious prejudice, the tragedy of human error, and how fake news can turn public opinion to the dark side.

Brilliant directed by T.J. Dawson on a two-story set designed by Tom Buderwitz that transforms quickly into the many necessary locations, each lit to perfection by Jean-Yves Tessier, Parades musical director David Lamoureux has fine tuned the cast of 47 triple-threat performers, dressed in stunning time-appropriate costumes designed by Shon Le Blanc and Alexandra Johnson that highlight Dana Solimando’s original choreography recreated by Estevan Valdes, into a powerful force of emotional harmony during the 26 songs which share the many emotions explored as the horrific tale is revealed.

Of the many talented members of the cast, stand-outs include Jeff Skowron as Leo Frank and Chelle Denton as his wife Lucille, each brilliantly letting us into the heart and soul of their characters and marriage; Davis Gaines as Hugh Dorsey, a traditional Southern attorney who manipulates the truth to suit his own political aspirations; Robert Yacko performs a perfect rendition of “Pretty Music” while dancing and whirling with his wife (Leslie Stevens) and several other high-class Southern belles as Governor Slaton, the truth-seeker who reverses Frank’s death sentence; Rufus Bonds, Jr. as Jim Conley, whose bitter chain gang song “Blues: Feel the Rain Fall” had the audience cheering his performance when it ended; Elizabeth Adabale as the Franks’ maid Minnie, who after being persuaded by Dorsey to tell lies in court finally tells the truth in an emotion-filled scene with Governor Slaton and Lucille Frank; Gordon Goodman as Tom Watson, a good old Southern boy who promotes hatred against anyone who is not a white Southern Christian; Robert W. Laur whose Judge Roan sentences Leo to death, then later sings about “The Glory” of Southern life while fishing with Hugh Dorsey; Jeanette Dawson as Mary Phagan’s mother whose tearful “My Child Will Forgive Me” sways the court to rule against Leo Frank; Benjamin Schrader as newspaper reporter Britt Craig who always looks for any “Real Big News” but then learns a valuable lesson about using fake news to sell papers; and Tyler Miclean as Frankie Epps, the young man who boldly flirts with Mary Phagan (Valerie Rose Lohman) on the streetcar by inviting her to “The Picture Show” and then boldly defends her honor throughout the trial, eventually being the last person to see Leo Frank alive.

I guarantee you will never see a production of PARADE more brilliant in ever single aspect than this one, so order your tickets today for the last four performances at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center, 1935 E. Manhattan Blvd., Redondo Beach, on Friday, June 22 at 8 pm, Saturday, June 23 at 2 pm and 8 p.m, and Sunday, June 24 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $25-$105, available by calling 714-589-2770 or online at www.3dtheatricals.org. The box office opens two hours prior to each performance, with complimentary parking located directly in front of the theater.

 

 

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