Album Review: Platt & Co Bring To Life The Tragedy Of Leo Frank On The Cast Recording of Brown & Urhy's PARADE 2023

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By: Mar. 26, 2023
Album Review: Platt & Co Bring To Life The Tragedy Of Leo Frank On The Cast Recording of Brown & Urhy's PARADE 2023
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Album Review: Platt & Co Bring To Life The Tragedy Of Leo Frank On The Cast Recording of Brown & Urhy's PARADE 2023 Heigh Ho, dear lovely rainbow tribe, welcome back to Bobby's CD sandbox where we offer our broken-down breakdowns of new music releases. So, strap in and get ready, as Bobby goes on the record ABOUT the record.

This week's album entry in the BobbyFiles comes from the much anticipated Broadway revival of Jason Robert Brown & Alfred Uhry's PARADE. Previewing at the Jacobs on February 1st and opening on March 26th, with a pre-scheduled closing on August 6th, this cast album was released on Friday and fell right into our rainbow manicure, and are we ever glad it did! Starring Tony, Grammy, and Emmy Award® winner Ben Platt and THE CHER SHOW's Micaela Diamond, under the baton of composer JRB, the album brings to life the score of a most important show. While cursed with a short run (a mere 124 performances) the original production went on to garner Tony Awards® for Brown (Best Score) and for book writer Alfred Uhry. Since that time, the first cast album, a national tour, plus other additional productions over the years, one hit run in London at the Donmar 10 years after its Broadway bow, and, of course, last year's much-hailed Encores! staging, of which this is a Broadway re-mount - have combined to make PARADE the hottest ticket this season. Relating the story of Leo Frank, a young, Jewish factory director transplanted from New York to Atlanta who was accused, tried, and convicted of the murder of one of his young workers, Mary Phagan, PARADE shines a light, once again, on one of the more visible examples of American antisemitism in our history. Not to get too maudlin or political, my dear ones, but experts today have declared that Frank was wrongly convicted and that Jim Conley, who claimed to have been Leo's accomplice, was, most likely, the actual murderer.

The album opens with an old-style paean to the South THE OLD RED HILLS OF HOME, a stirring mix of young and old soldiers singing of the war between the states. Charlie Webb's liquid tenor sings of spilling blood, while still comforting us with his voice. This opener basically covers the entire civil war, setting the stage for the viciousness of southern "hospitality" that grew in the fields of those hills. How wonderful it is that Howard McGillin is back on The Broadway stage, and it is a thrill to hear that clear, powerful voice again. With the lovely and touching HOW CAN I CALL THIS HOME, Platt tugs at hearts, conveying the story of a poor little Jewish man caught in the south but longing for the Brooklyn where he was raised. Anxiety fills his voice as he sings "Being southern is not just being in the south," and how he even finds Southern Jews to be strange. He is, essentially, an NYC boy trapped in the wilds of Georgia. The song I AM TRYING TO REMEMBER gives us a peek into the character of Conley (again the likely real murderer), as he attempts to cobble together a story that won't lead him to the noose. Eddie Cooper, making his Broadway Debut, has a most powerful voice that is filled with emotion as Conley works himself up, almost into a state of terror, at what he "remembers." In the song REAL BIG NEWS, Jay Armstrong Johnson, as Britt Craig, a Reporter reporting with a viciously clear antisemitic bias, uses his voice to whip the cast (and us) into a frenzy with his frenzied song. It is with Track 9 that Micaela Diamond, singing the ballad, YOU DON'T KNOW THIS MAN, gets to tell the story of Frank's wife, Lucille, whose Herculean efforts to save her husband from the gallows are the backbone of this show. Her beautiful voice moves easily from lilting soprano to pure belting power as she defies the world on behalf of her husband. Another highlight for this rainbow boy came with A RUMBLIN' AND A ROLLIN', an almost rock and roll song that JRB manages to make still fit in the period. Performed by Douglas Lyons & Courtnee Carter, the number is filled with racial rumblings and an indictment of white society and the attention paid to white-on-white crime, never mind Frank's Jewishness, pointing out that if the girl who had been murdered were black, well ... we know the sad outcome of that, don't we, my rainbow children?

This is just a little lookeeloo into a wonderfully produced and performed cast album. The sound is first-rate and the voices are some of the best. If Little Bobby were to offer a note it would be that some of the tracks (28 of them, for a total of 1 hr 20 min) could have been trimmed, making way for some book/dialogue segments to bridge the story gaps in the uninitiated listeners' minds, so that the tale being told is more fully realized. Bobby readers know that we like to really get the story on the cast album, and not be left reaching for liner notes or Wikipedia to find out where we are. It also is important to note, though (as JRB said in his BWW interview with my FAB colleague Richie Ridge), this production, which has its strongest roots in the Donmar staging, still remains true to Hal Prince's original vision. Also, Brown feels this is the BEST sung production he has ever experienced, giving much praise to both leads, as well as calling them out as being his first ever Jewish actors to play these Jewish roles, and how affirming and righteous that is at this time in American history.

And so my lambkins, PARADE the 2023 Revival Cast Recording is a first-rate record of this latest piece of Broadway history and will make a fine addition to your collections since we give it a rousing...

4 Out Of 5 Rainbows - Put this one in your collection/stream today.

Get Your Copy Of Parade: HERE

You Can See And Hear Everything About PARADE On The Webbysite: HERE

See Platt & Diamond Perform THIS IS NOT OVER YET On The YouTubes: HERE

Album Review: Platt & Co Bring To Life The Tragedy Of Leo Frank On The Cast Recording of Brown & Urhy's PARADE 2023


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