Bigotry, set to beautiful music
The Vault, Southwark Playhouse, London SE1
LONDON GOT its first Parade in 2007 when Jason Robert Brown’s and Alfred Uhry’s hard-hitting musical, full of Southern manners and Georgia antisemitism, was staged at the Donmar. The true story at the show’s core concerns the 1913 trial of Leo Frank, a Brooklyn Jew wrongly convicted by an Atlanta jury of murdering a 13-year-old girl. But the relationship at its heart is between two very different kinds of Jew — the nebbish Leo (Alastair Brookshaw) and his wife, Georgia girl Lucille (Laura Pitt-Pulford).
U h r y ’ s a n d Brown’s version portrays a frosty marriage chilled by the emotionally remote Leo. But in Thom Southerland’s powerfully sung production, set in the rather too echoing vaults near London Bridge station, more c o u l d h a v e been made of the marriage’s thaw.
L u c i l l e ’ s t r a n s i t i o n f r o m hi g h s o c i e t y girl to stalwart spouse is key here, and Pitt-Pulford is too much of a homebody from the start to make this work as fully as it should.
But she sings superbly, Brookshaw is pitch-perfect as the pinched Leo, and Terry Doe as the guilty janitor is a talent to watch. Meanwhile, Brown’s score brilliantly reveals conflicts and complexity by setting the bigotry and lies that resulted in a travesty of justice to irresistibly seductive melodies. ( Tel: 020 7407 0234)