Preview: Parade

April 14-16, 8:00 p.m. and April 16-17, 2:00 p.m.

New College Theatre

Directed by Joshua R. McTaggart ’13 and Sam R. Schoenberg ’13

Produced by Ali R. Leskowitz ’11 and Caleb J. Thompson ’14

In the hammy form of a musical and under the cheery title “Parade” lies the dark true story of Leo Frank (Elliott J. Rosenbaum ’12), a Jewish man convicted in a show trial of raping and murdering 13-year-old Mary Phagan (MaryGabrielle Prezioso ’13) in 1913 Georgia. Historical evidence has since indicated that Frank was innocent, and the details of his trial were suspicious enough in their own time that Georgia Governor John Slaton meddled in local affairs to have Frank’s sentence commuted from a death sentence to life in prison. The ensuing uproar led to the reemergence of the Ku Klux Klan and the formation of the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish rights group.

In his Harvard-Radcliffe Dramatic Club production, director Joshua R. McTaggart ’13, also a Crimson arts comper, wants to create a realist portrayal of book writer Alfred Uhry’s and composer Jason Robert Brown’s piece. “Instead of making each character a caricature,” he says, “I want to make them the people they really were.” In order to diminish the production’s artifice, McTaggart and his technical director Christopher M. Wankel ’13 have chosen a spare aesthetic, and decided to emphasize the importance of Phagan as a character in her own right.

The most challenging task in accentuating the historical realism of “Parade” is dealing with the theatricality inherent to all musicals. “This is really not your typical musical,” says music director Sam R. Schoenberg ’13. “We want to take the audience on a real emotional ride as opposed to this jazz-hands musical you often get.” Of course, there will also be a few big musical numbers. “We’ve given the story gravity but also paid attention to theatrical detail,” says Amelia H. Ross ’14, who plays Frank’s wife Lucille. Combining drama and reality, the cast and crew of “Parade” aim for an honest rendering of Frank’s controversial life story.

—Staff writer Alexander E. Traub can be reached at atraub@college.harvard.edu

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