Jason Robert Brown and Alfred Uhry's Parade officially opened its first-ever Broadway revival March 16 at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, with Tony winner Ben Platt and Micaela Diamond leading the company as Leo and Lucille Frank, respectively. The limited run is scheduled to continue through August 6. See how the production fared with critics here.
On the star-packed red carpet, Playbill found out what our readers really want to know: everyone's favorite JRB song.
Spirits were high as the revival celebrated its opening night. Composer-lyricist Jason Robert Brown, who calls the new production "the best-sung production I've ever heard," had his mind on where the piece started a quarter century ago. "I'm feeling very humbled," he told us on the red carpet. "I wrote this piece 25 years ago, and I am just so grateful to [the original production's director] Hal Prince, who had the vision to bring this piece to life. I feel like what Alfred and I are charged to do in this world is to honor his vision and to bring Leo's story to life. Something that any good liberal boy grows up knowing is how unfair this place can be. To be able to give voice to it feels like a special privilege."
Brown gave Prince a shout-out onstage after the opening night curtain call too, along with several other artists who have helped shape the Parade that is currently back on Broadway.
Watch Brown's opening night curtain call speech below:
Check out photos from the starry opening night below, and read on for more reflections from the company:
Platt, whose character ends the first act convicted of murder and confined to a jail cell, spends the show's intermission on stage throughout. On the red carpet, we got to find out what exactly he thinks about during that 15-minute pause, often as audience members are busy snapping pictures and making TikToks. "Sometimes I try to tune out," Platt told us. "Sometimes I think about the audience that day. Sometimes I think about Leo, and sometimes I think about how I have to pee." According to Platt, over an eight-performance week, he ends up spending a cumulative two hours sitting on stage not doing anything during intermission.
The Dear Evan Hansen Tony winner also revealed that the inspiration behind the move is to remind audience members of Frank's true plight. "Leo sat in jail for the last few years of his life," Platt shared. "Even though he gets some hope towards the end, he was still sitting alone in a cell for all of it. The show is obviously very kinetic because we have a lot of story to tell, so we don't get to really sit with that aspect of his life. It's my opportunity every night to just kind of honor that."
The need for a revival of Parade—which tells the real-life story of Leo Frank, a Jewish man who was falsely accused of murdering a 13-year-old girl in Atlanta, Georgia in 1913 and was ultimately murdered by a lynch mob—was made acutely real when the revival's first preview was greeted by neo-Nazi protesters. The disturbing irony of still facing that bigotry more than 100 years after the events of Parade was not lost on Alfred Uhry, who penned the musical's book.
"Anti-semitism, anti-Black [sentiments]... it's not just in the air. It's sort of blooming its evil flowers," Uhry said on the carpet. "The fact that we were picketed on our first preview with signs that looked almost exactly like the sheets that are used as props in the show is both terrifying and sort of gratifying to be able to discuss this now and have it be out in the open. We want people to go with us for two hours and get swept up. How they feel and what they think is their own business."
Jay Armstrong Johnson, playing local reporter Britt Craig, shared a second-hand anecdote from original director Prince that felt especially prescient in 2023. "Jason talked a lot about Hal Prince when we started this process, and back in the '90s Parade didn't do so well. And apparently Hal looked at Jason and said, 'One day people will get this show.' I think that day is now and I'm glad that we're able to show it to a new audience and put a mirror up to society, and hopefully change some hearts and minds along the way."
Diamond, starring as Leo's wife Lucille, who becomes pivotal in pushing the movement to free her husband, finds a lot of inspiration in her character. "She just has the best arc of all time. She is a Jewish woman who is able to find her voice at the turn of the century. Sometimes we underestimate women at those moments in time, but you do not underestimate her. That's what I love about her. The fact that she can remain vulnerable to love throughout all the trauma is so beautiful."
Also in attendance for opening night was Broadway's original Lucille, Carolee Carmello. Currently starring as the evil stepmother in Bad Cinderella, Carmello had a special and uniquely appropriate opening night gift for Diamond, from one Lucille to the next: a jar of watermelon pickles, just like Lucille makes in the show.
The production comes to Broadway following a 2022 run at New York City Center. Much of the cast from that production has continued to Broadway. Along with Platt, Diamond, and Armstrong, Parade features Alex Joseph Grayson as Jim Conley, Sean Allan Krill as Governor Slaton, Paul Alexander Nolan as Hugh Dorsey, Courtnee Carter as Angela, Eddie Cooper as Newt Lee, Howard McGillin as Old Soldier/Judge ROan, Stacie Bono as Sally Slayton, Jake Pedersen as Frankie Epps, Kelli Barrett as Mrs. Phagan, Erin Rose Doyle as Mary Phagan, Manoel Felciano as Tom Watson, Danielle Lee Greaves as Minnie McKnight, Douglas Lyons as Riley, Emily Rose DeMartino as Essie and others, Beth Kirkpatrick as Nina Formby, Charlie Webb as Young Soldier, Florrie Bagel as Nurse, Max Chernin as Mr. Turner, Christopher Gurr as Luther Rosser/Mr. Peavy, Ashlyn Maddox as Monteen and Others, Sophia Manicone as Iola Stover, William Michals as Detective Starnes, and Jackson Teeley as Officer Ivey.
Rounding out the company as swings are Harry Bouvy, Tanner Callicutt, Bailee Endebrock, Caroline Fairweather, Prentiss E. Mouton, and Aurelia Williams, along with standby Ryan Vona.
Originally directed by Harold Prince, the musical premiered on Broadway in 1998, receiving nine Tony nominations and winning two, for its book and score. In the years since, a major revision premiered at London's Donmar Warehouse in 2007, which later played Los Angeles' Mark Taper Forum in 2009. The revival uses the revisions from the work's London premiere. The sold-out gala engagement at New York City Center ran November 1–6, 2022, with Brown conducting the orchestra.
Arden's creative team has largely been reunited for the Broadway bow, with music director Tom Murray, scenic designer Dane Laffrey, costume designer Susan Hilferty, lighting designer Heather Gilbert, projection designer Sven Ortel, and hair and wig designer Tom Watson reprising their work. Christopher Cree Grant, who choreographed the City Center run, is joined by co-choreographer (and wife) Lauren Yalango-Grant. Newly joining the team are sound designer Jon Weston and production stage manager Justin Scribner. The production is cast by The Telsey Office's Craig Burns, who also handled the City Center run.