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Review: 3-D Theatricals' arresting 'Parade' is hard to forget

Critic's Choice

May 14, 2013|By David C. Nichols
  • Jeff Skowron, left, stars as Leo Frank in "Parade" at Plummer Auditorium in Fullerton.
Jeff Skowron, left, stars as Leo Frank in "Parade" at Plummer… (Isaac James )

Exceptional integrity distinguishes “Parade” in Fullerton. The company 3-D Theatricals attains a rarefied level of artistry with this arresting, beautifully appointed take on Jason Robert Brown and Alfred Uhry’s Tony-winning 1998 account of the notorious Leo Frank trial in 1913 Atlanta.

Combining the intimately revised 2007 Donmar Warehouse version (seen at the Mark Taper Forum in 2009) with the larger scope of Harold Prince’s epic Vivian Beaumont staging, director T.J. Dawson, choreographer Dana Solimando and musical director David Lamoureux approach the fact-based property and its complex themes -- anti-Semitism, legal malfeasance and political expediency among them -- with uncompromising conviction.

Given the rangy demands of Uhry’s febrile libretto and Brown’s eclectic score, the skill on display is imposing, from the “Old Red Hills of Home” prologue onward.The designs are Broadway-worthy, Tom Buderwitz’s sprawling set, Jean-Yves Tessier’s rich lighting  and Shon LeBlanc’s detailed costumes serving the narrative’s tonal shifts and inexorable tragic course.

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So does the fine, fervent ensemble, centered by remarkable leads Jeff Skowron as accused Leo Frank and Caitlin Humphreys as his wife, Lucille, their multifaceted performances properly peaking at the climactic “All the Wasted Time.”

Valerie Rose Lohman’s unaffected Mary Phagan, Norman Large’s insidious prosecutor, Robert Yacko’s feckless governor, Zachary Ford’s oily newshound, Gordon Goodman's Bible-thumper and original cast member Rufus Bonds Jr.’s searing convict are among other standouts in a cast full of standouts.

Despite minor glitches -- amplication sometimes blurs group lyrics, certain bits during the Act 1 courtroom sequence risk overkill -- the proceedings unfold to impressively fluid, ultimately rending effect. “Parade” is neither an easy show nor a comforting one, but its sober intent and trenchant impact are unforgettable.

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“Parade,” Plummer Auditorium, 201 E. Chapman Ave., Fullerton.  8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays. Also, 2 p.m. May 25. Ends May 26. $28 to $60. (714) 589-2770, Ext. 1 or www.3DTshows.com. Running time: 2 hours, 40 minutes.

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