Bertie Carvel and Lara Pulver sensational in the Donmar’s ‘Parade’
Composer and songwriter Jason Robert Brown was just 28 when he won the Tony Award for best score for the musical “Parade,” which opened Monday in a terrific revival at London’s Donmar Warehouse. The show deals with the infamous railroading of a Jewish man named Leo Frank for the murder of a girl in the Deep South in the early years of the 20th century. A national outrage at the time, it has been the subject of many books and was the basis for Mervyn LeRoy’s 1937 film “They Won’t Forget” and NBC’s 1988 miniseries “The Murder of Mary Phagan.”
Director Rob Ashford’s atmospheric staging of ‘Parade’
Oscar, Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning writer Alfred Uhry wrote the book for “Parade,” which benefits greatly from Brown’s melodic songs. I’m not the first to compare his lyrics to Steven Sondheim and the New York Times called him “a leading member of a new generation of composers who embody high hopes for the American musical.” His 2001 musical “The Last Five Years” ranked on Time Magazine’s Top 10 and earned him Drama Desk Awards for best music and lyrics.
A new musical about teenagers titled “13″ debuted in Los Angeles in January with plans for Broadway in 2008. Brown (left) is also developing a stage musical version of the Nicolas Cage comedy “Honeymoon in Vegas” with Andrew Bergman, the film’s writer and director. The songwriter also records albums and makes concert appearances. He will perform in the South Bank Centre’s Purcell Room on Sunday Sept. 30 with his band, the Caucasian Rhythm Kings and guests Lara Pulver, who is brilliant in “Parade” as Leo Frank’s wife, Lucille; Jenna Russell, who was superb in the London revival of “Sunday in the Park with George”; and Joanna Riding, the outstanding star of “The Witches of Eastwick” and “My Fair Lady.” Here’s how my review of “Parade” begins in The Hollywood Reporter:
LONDON — Tony-winning choreographer Rob Ashford’s Donmar Warehouse revival of the 1998 American musical “Parade,” which is based on the notorious 1913 murder trial of Leo Frank, is an enthralling testament to the wisdom of revisiting strong material with a fresh vision.
The show, originally co-conceived by Harold Prince, won Tony Awards for its book by Alfred Uhry (“Driving Miss Daisy,” “The Last Night of Ballyhoo”) and music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown (“Urban Cowboy,” “The Last Five Years”). But it had just 85 performances at the Lincoln Theater Center’s Vivian Baumont Theatre and received lukewarm reviews.
Read the full review and here’s the Donmar, more about Brown, and his Southbank concert. THR’s review of “13,” two New York Times reviews of the original production by Vincent Canby and Ben Brantley, two reviews of Steve Oney’s 2003 book “And the Dead Shall Rise: The Murder of Mary Phagan and the Lynching of Leo Frank” by Theodore Rosengarten and Warren Goldstein, and the original NYT review of “They Won’t Forget.”