Best Musical Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach 2014 - Parade; Slow Burn Theatre Company
Parade, Jason Robert Brown's fact-based 1998 show about the wrongful rape and murder conviction of a Jewish factory owner in the anti-Semitic Atlanta of 1913, received a landmark production from the company that has become South Florida's edgiest purveyor of musical theater. On a set that resembled a rural, rickety hall of (in)justice, director Patrick Fitzwater turned Brown's song-heavy, operatic book into a reflection of today's high-profile courtroom circuses — a critique of our collective, eye-for-an-eye blood lust, rational thought be damned. The impossibly perfect cast extended from the shattering lead performances to the moving ensemble, all of whom delivered some of the best work of their careers. Matthew Korinko's bigoted, ice-veined prosecutor, Hugh Dorsey, was so exceptionally evil that you wondered how the actor managed to shake off the demons and sleep at night. And in building the relationship between Tom Anello's Leo Frank and Ann Marie Olsen's Lucille Frank, Fitzwater and his actors created one of the most realistic and uninhibited expressions of true love I've seen onstage anywhere. By the time the story succumbed to its brutal finale, I was so attached to the plight of this tragic martyr that I could barely look at the horrible deed. It will remain forever unshakable.