Forbes Center musical brings American historical case to life

jmu forbes centerA large cast of 28 theatre, music and musical theatre students will bring the true story of Leo Frank to life in the James Madison University School of Theatre and Dance’s production of Parade, a Tony Award-winning “musical that dares to be serious” (Evening Standard, London).

With a book by Pulitzer-Prize-winning playwright Alfred Uhry and a skillful score by Jason Robert Brown, Parade is based on the true story of Leo Frank, a Brooklyn-raised Jew who lived in Georgia in 1913. Leo was plant superintendent of a pencil factory where 13-year-old Mary Phagan worked. When the young girl was found murdered, Leo was immediately suspected, arrested and put on trial.

“At its core, Parade tells a tale of what can happen when we give ourselves permission to view and treat people as ‘others,’ whether those others are another religion, race or socioeconomic group,” says director Kate Arecchi. “The story encourages audiences to reflect on their worldview both then and now—and to consider their own attitudes and behaviors with regards to difference.” Amid the themes of religious intolerance, political injustice and racial tension is a love story between a man who has been accused of murder and his wife who fights to have him vindicated.

According to Arecchi, the “gorgeous and lush” music, which is part of the Broadway musical canon, combined with text and movement, help to tell the story in a unique way that expands the interior thoughts of the characters.

This joint production with the School of Music also features live orchestra conducted by Dr. David Stringham with musical direction by Dr. Byrce Hayes. Rounding out the artistic staff are JMU students Liv Ice and Nora Winsler (choreography), Emily Dawson and Kyla McLaughlin (dramaturgs), and Jaclynn Wise (stage manager), JMU faculty/staff members Pamela Johnson (costume design), Emily Becher-McKeever (lighting design) and Tom Carr (sound design), and guest scenic designer Dick Block from Carnegie Mellon University.

Parade takes place Tuesday-Friday, February 20-23 @ 8 pm, Saturday, February 24 @ 3 pm and 8 pm, and Sunday, February 25 at 2 pm at the Forbes Center for the Performing Arts.

Tickets are $21-$22.  For tickets, visit or call the Forbes Center Box Office at (540) 568-7000. Contact Jen Kulju, public relations coordinator at the Forbes Center, at (540) 568-4394 or by email at [email protected] for further information.


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