Albums

Parade – Original Broadway Cast Recording 1998

Parade – Original Broadway Cast Recording 1998

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Synopsis

You hold in your hands something rare: the cast recording of a new American musical. Large-scale, original musicals like Parade are seldom produced in this era of adaptations, revivals and revues. And few have the serious subject matter of Parade, which gives an uncompromising but ultimately life-affirming view of a dark episode from America’s recent past. When the show opened on December 17, 1998, at Lincoln Center Theater, it brought out strong and divergent opinions from audiences and critics alike. Those reviewers who loved Parade (and there were many) called it a landmark in the musical theater. David Patrick Stearns of USA Today named it “the #1 theatrical high of the year.” saying it “boldly fulfills every promise implied by West Side Story, Company and other ambitious musicals.” Clive Barnes in the New York Post wrote that “Parade is a defining moment in Broadway musical theater” and even New York Magazine’s notoriously hard-to-please critic John Simon declared Parade “a milestone.” It is no surprise to learn that director Harold Prince is a co-creator of Parade; his legendary career is filled with daring shows which expanded the possibilities for musical theater, including Cabaret, Follies, Evita and Kiss Of The Spider Woman. And book writer Alfred Uhry is indisputably one of America’s great dramatists, as demonstrated by the Pulitzer, Oscar® and Tony® he received for his earlier works also set in Atlanta: Driving Miss Daisy and The Last Night Of Ballyhoo. But few people were prepared for the remarkable Broadway debut of the young composer-lyricist Jason Robert Brown, whose expansive score draws on a panoply of musical influences from both ends of the 20th Century, held together by his own distinctive style. Brimming with memorable tunes and consistently smart lyric – and richly orchestrated by Don Sebesky – Parade is a show that rewards repeated listening. Although the show ended its limited engagement on February 18, 1999, you can enjoy listening to Parade for years to come, thanks to the generous individuals whose contributions have made this album possible. The story of Parade is true, centering on the 1913 “Trial of the Century” in which Leo Frank, a Brooklyn-born Jew living in Atlanta, was falsely accused of killing Mary Phagan, a young girl working in the factory he managed. Leo was railroaded through a trial, found guilty and sentenced to hang. His wife, Lucille, launched a heroic campaign to save his life, eventually convincing the Governor to overturn the death sentence – only to have a mob of vigilantes drag Leo from prison in the middle of the night and lynch him. The show’s title refers to the annual parade held on Confederate Memorial Day, for it was on that day in 1913 that the murder took place. The parade (which is seen at the start, middle and end of the musical to mark the passing of years) was a rallying point for proud Southerners still affected by their defeat in the Civil War. Public outcry over the little girl’s death was easily stirred up by political opportunists and a rabid press. Small wonder that Georgians were quick to condemn an outsider like Leo Frank and take justice into their own hands. At the forefront of this tragic tale is a heartbreaking love story. Before the trial, Leo and Lucille Frank were formal and restrained with one another. When the crisis exploded around them, they both emerged stronger despite the struggle, discovering a deep passion for each other that they had not known before. All The Wasted Time, their duet towards the end of the show, is a sublime expression of grown-up love – especially as performed by the extraordinary Brent Carver and Carolee Carmello, who headed the first-rate company of thirty-one for this world premiere production. – Thomas Cott Southern extended families are prone to telling stories and so are Jewish ones. Mine was both, so I got a double dose. I grew up hearing about the quirks of distant relatives, in-laws, and a whole network of people I didn’t know. They all came with stories attached. But nobody mentioned Leo Frank. Some of the family even walked out of the room if the name came up. I found this confusing, because I knew that my Great Uncle Sig had been his employer, and Lucille Frank was my grandmother’s friend. Due to this hush-hush policy, I developed a fascination for the case, which has lasted all these years and which led to the idea for Parade. – Alfred Uhry Between my parents and Finkelstein Memorial Library, I had pretty good access to Broadway cast albums when I was growing up. I would lock myself in my bedroom and sing along with West Side Story and Cabaret and Sweeney Todd, and I would imagine the following scenario: I was going to write a serious, ambitious musical with all the courage and integrity of the shows I loved – a musical that would say something. The director would be one of the great theatrical titans, maybe that Harold Prince guy whose name was on all my favorite albums. The book would be written by a brilliant and respected playwright, someone who could go beyond stock musical comedy types and really breathe life into the characters. We’d have a cast filled with incredible performers and a wonderful choreographer and great designers and musicians. And I would be the young kid just off the bus who was asked to write the score, and people would say “Who is he?” and I’d smile, thinking that when the show opened, I would knock them all on their asses. The weird part is, you dream things, and then they start happening, and you don’t even have time to notice that your dreams are coming true. There’s too much work to do – fix this lyric, write this transition, orchestrate this, arrange that, pay your rent, walk your dog – and if you’re not careful, you’ve taken the whole trip without ever looking out the window. I was twenty-three years old when Hal asked me to work with him and Alfred Uhry on what he called “an American opera.” I had never written a piece of narrative theatre before, and I’m still not sure what Hal’s faith in me was predicated on, but I was determined to take the leap and prove to these two wonderful men who had given so much to the theatre that I could do something epic and powerful. For almost five years, there was the show: a reading in Philadelphia, a reading in New York, a workshop in Toronto. Everything else in my life was changing, but the show (first it was called “The Devil and Little Mary,” then for a few horrible months “I Love A Parade,” until we finally all settled on Parade) was always there. Always work to do and expectations to meet. And as my marriage fell apart and several close friendships floundered or vanished, I calmed myself with the knowledge that the show was still going on, the one constant in an otherwise chaotic existence. Finally, it was announced that we would be doing the show at Lincoln Center Theater. I was overjoyed that Parade was going to be in such a wonderful place, and terrified at the thought that at some point in the near future the show was going to be finished, out of my hands, and not able to keep me going anymore. Alfred always says I remember everything, and that’s kind of true about this project, so here are some things I remember: Sitting in Alfred’s kitchen as he talked about growing up in the South. (I used a lot of his exact words when I wrote The Old Red Hills Of Home, and Alfred always cries when someone sings that song.) Playing three songs from the just-completed first act on stage at the WPA Theatre, just after the last performance of Songs for a New World. Working at Livent’s non-air-conditioned office until five-thirty in the morning to write yet another song for the Governor to sing in the second act, and coming up, desperately, with Pretty Music, which I brought, bleary-eyed and hopeless, to a meeting at Hal’s the next morning where he and Alfred let out whoops of joy and told me I had finally nailed it. (This scenario was replayed with at least ten other songs.) Nervously going to Eric Stern’s dressing room at the Gershwin Theatre to beg him to conduct the show, and hearing him say “I’ll do it” after I had played only the opening number. Talking to Pat Birch at a Christmas party when she asked me, “Why don’t I get to work on your show?” and I shrugged and said I wondered the same thing myself. The final dress rehearsal at the Beaumont, with a thousand invited audience members, where the deafening applause seemed so unreal to me that I went down to my office and refused to leave the building, for fear I would find out it hadn’t really happened. Reading an article in which Hal called me “the next Gershwin,” and sitting down to write a letter to thank him, only to collapse in front of the computer knowing I could never express my gratitude. Two weeks before the opening, Alfred and I went to Leo Frank’s grave in Brooklyn. Neither of us had been to see it the whole time we were writing together, and as we put two rocks on his simple gravestone, I looked down and thought, “I hope we didn’t let you down, Leo,” and as I thought it, Alfred said exactly the same thing. And finally, it’s over now. The day after the show closed, we all came together for the last time to record this album. I left the taping of the jury’s verdict until the end of the day, whereupon I called Hal, Don Sebesky, Eric, Tom Partington (our drummer who’s been with us since Philadelphia) and assorted other folk who had given their all to the show, and I put them in front of the microphones and made them say “Guilty” while I stood in front of them and conducted, giddy and proud and relieved and sad that this experience – so exciting and difficult and endless and rewarding – was finally over. God, what a time! – Jason Robert Brown

Credits

Young Soldier: Jeff Edgerton Aid: Don Stephenson Assistant: Melanie Vaughan Old Soldier: Don Chastain Lucille Frank: Carolee Carmello Leo Frank: Brent Carver Hugh Dorsey: Herndon Lackey Governor Slaton: John Hickok Sally Slaton: Anne Torsiglieri Frankie Epps: Kirk McDonald Mary Phagan: Christy Carlson Romano Lola Stover: Brooke Sunny Moriber Jim Conely: Rufus Bonds, Jr. J.N. Starnes: Peter Samuel Officer Ivey: Tad Ingram Newt Lee: Ray Aranha Rookie Policeman: Randy Redd Mrs. Phagan: Jessica Molaskey Lizzie Phagan: Robin Skye Floyd MacDaniel: J.B. Adams Britt Craig: Evan Pappas Tom Watson: John Leslie Wolfe Angela: Angela Lockett Riley: J.C. Montgomery Luther Rosser: J.B. Adams Fiddlin’ John: Jeff Edgerton Judge Roan: Don Chastain Nurse: Adinah Alexander Monteen: Abbi Hutcherson Essi: Emily Klein Kid: Randy Redd Mr. Peavy: Don Stephenson Ensemble: Adinah Alexander, Duane Boutté, Diana Brownstone, Thursday Farrar, Will Gartshore, Abbi Hutcherson, Tad Ingram, Emily Klein, Angela Lockett, Megan McGinnis, J.C. Montgomery, Brooke Sunny Moriber, Randy Redd, Joel Robertson, Peter Samuel, Robin Skye, Don Stephenson, Biu Szobody, Anne Torsiglieri, Melanie Vaughan, Wysandria Woolsey