UAC & MUSKET present “Parade”
Nov. 21 at 8 p.m., 22 at 8 p.m. & 23 at 2 p.m. in the Power Center
Tickets: General Admission: $13, Students w/ ID: $7

A true story of vigilante justice in the South will unfold at the Power Center this weekend.

“Parade,” written by Alfred Uhry, tells the story of Leo Frank, a Brooklyn-bred Jew who moves to Atlanta, where he meets his wife Lucille. His life is quickly turned upside down when he becomes the main suspect in the murder of a 13-year-old girl. The antisemitism of North and South at the turn of the century sets the stage for a story of discrimination and misunderstanding, alongside the tale of a couple who rediscovers one another in times of trouble.

“Parade” is the third in a series of plays written by Uhry called the “Atlanta Trilogy.” The story of Leo and Lucille Frank is enhanced on stage by a luscious score written by Jason Robert Brown with up to 13-part harmonies sung by the ensemble. In “Parade” you’ll find “kitchen-sink drama within a melodramatic musical,” said Director Adam Moskal, a senior in the School of Music, Theatre and Dance.

Kevin Hegmann, the actor who plays Leo, called the scoring of “Parade” brilliant. He said that Brown, as part of a new generation of composers, writes music that fits the story better than ever.

“The rhythms falls on the important words,” Hegmann said. That gives the audience a sense that they are just “watching a scene that happens to be sung.” Elise Turner, Musical Director and senior in the School of Music, Theater and Dance, has been a fan of the music of “Parade” for years and admits that she didn’t “fully grasp the depth of the score until I first saw it.” Still a week before the show, she is finding nuances and connections in the music and story that were not apparent at first.

Watching Heggman and co-star Allison McDowell, who plays Lucille, on stage together will certainly set off an emotional reaction. There’s a lot of discomfort when watching the story of Americans turning against one another, but there is only beauty in the performance by the students in “Parade.” MUSKET, a student run production company, is responsible for putting on the show, and the cast of this season has been working hard with Moskal and Turner to recreate a time and place.

The music in “Parade” “enhances the gravity of the situation” in each scene, said Moskal. Whether it’s Leo and Lucille realizing a little too late how much they mean to one another, Leo on trial or the community disparaging the couple — who they see as strange outsiders who have breached their trust — the stakes are high, and it’s obvious.

Moskal, who is personally interested in realism, thinks modern audiences will connect with the story of Leo Frank. The local mob that rallies against Leo demonstrates what can happen when “we self-segregate and unite under one cause … anything from smear campaigns to violent hate crimes,” as Moskal explained.

“Parade is not your typical show,” McDowell said. Run by students and backed by a stunning score, “Parade” depicts a story where the scope goes beyond the love story of Lucille and Leo to take on U.S. history at one of its most telling and shameful moments.

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