FRANKLIN, Tenn.– The Boiler Room Theatre (BRT) follows its Steel Magnolias revival with the Middle Tennessee premiere of Jason Robert Brown’s Tony Award-winning musical Parade, according to the professional troupe. The production will run October 5-20 at the theater’s namesake venue in the historic Factory at Franklin, 230 Franklin Rd., Bldg. Six.
With book by Alfred Uhry (Pulitzer Prize for Driving Miss Daisy) and music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown (The Last Five Years), Parade had its world premiere at Lincoln Center Theater in 1998. It won Tony Awards for best book and score while also copping Drama Desk and New York Critics’ Circle awards for best musical. The show quickly built an international following for its haunting score and powerful narrative and has subsequently been produced by renowned companies around the world, including recent acclaimed productions in London and Los Angeles.
Parade takes place in 1913 Atlanta, Ga. After a teenaged factory employee is assaulted and murdered, Leo Frank, the young Jewish manager of the factory, is charged with the crime. By manipulating witnesses and tampering with evidence, the prosecution sets about convincing the jury that the wrongly accused Frank is guilty.
Considered one of the most sensational trials of the early 20th century, the Frank case pressed every hot-button issue of the time: North vs. South, black vs. white, Jewish vs. Christian, industrial vs. agrarian. The musical recounts the press frenzy and public outrage surrounding the trial and conviction, including the crusade for justice amid religious intolerance, political injustice and racial tension fought by Frank’s wife, Lucille.
“This show holds such an important message about prejudice and stereotypes,” says director Sondra Morton. “It is an influential part of our southern history. I am honored to direct such an incredible and integral piece of work. My hope is that each audience member leaves reflecting on who they are and how they perceive others.”
Morton’s company of 17 actors, who will play the musical’s 40 roles, includes many of Middle Tennessee’s finest talent. Having recently directed the acclaimed Pippin for the BRT, Paul Cook stars as Leo Frank. Back after her tour de force portrayal of Diana in Next to Normal is Megan Murphy Chambers as his wife Lucille Frank. Also starring are Matt Baugher as Hugh Dorsey, Jordan Ravellette as Britt Craig, Josh Lowry as Frankie, Laura Crockarell as Sally and Ms. Phagan, Dominique Howse as Jim Conley, Hope Dyra as Mary Phagan, Morganne Best as Iola Stover, Paige Brouillette as Essie, Arden Guice as Monteen, Colin Carswell as Newt Lee, Piper Jones as Minnie, and rounding out the cast by playing several characters are Dan McGeachy, Dan Ziegler, Flynt Foster, and Darci Wantiez.
Jamey Green and Lauri Bright serve as Parade’s musical director and choreographer, respectively. Jayme Smith (stage manager), Corbin Green (set design) and Katie Delaney (costumes) make up its production team.
A unique feature of this production is the use of Jaz Dorsey, the grandson of the controversial prosecuting attorney depicted in Parade, as its dramaturge. “Doing the dramaturgy means doing the research, and the first book one grabs these days on the subject of Leo Frank is “And the Dead Shall Rise” by Steve Oney,” he says. “Oney’s book isn’t just about Leo Frank – it is an amazing and compelling history ofAtlanta at the turn of the century, so rich in research and knowledge that one paragraph can provoke an entire day Googling the various players who keep coming on the scene.
“From Oney I learned that Leo’s defense attorney, Luther Rosser, was directly connected to the Dorsey clan, as his son, Luther Rosser, Jr. was married to my grandfather’s sister. Creepy. It seems that there is much that is suspect about Rosser’s defense. Can you say ‘conflict of interest’?”
Performances will be held every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday evening during the run at 8 p.m. There will also be one Sunday matinee at 2 p.m. on Oct. 14 and one Thrifty Thursday show at 8 p.m. on October 18.
Ticket prices are $27 for adults, $25 for seniors (age 60 and up) and students (age 13 through college with valid ID), and $21 for children ages 3 through 12. Matinee prices are $2 less respectively. All Tuesday shows are two-for-one ($27 for two tickets; no other discounts apply). Thrifty Thursdays allow guests to beat the weekend crowds and grab tickets at the bargain price of $17. Tickets may be purchased by calling Boiler Room Theatre at (615) 794-7744 or ordered online at www.boilerroomtheatre.com.
*Photos by Rick Malkin courtesy Rick Malkin Photography and Boiler Room Theatre.