BY GEORGE J. DACRE
This is a play about a Jewish man’s fight for justice in 1913 in Atlanta, Georgia and look into the court system that existed there. It is told in expertly drafted musical numbers in a fantastic musical production by the Nyack High School’s Drama Club. With a great stage setting made by the students this play directed by Joe Egan, “Parade,” is one you ought to see.
It has 27 scenes starting in Marietta, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta, to Peachtree Street, Atlanta and a Confederate Memorial Day, from which the production gets it’s parade title, to the bedroom of Leo and Lucille Frank, to Frank’s Pencil Factory ,to the Atlanta Municipal Building, to the Fulton Tower Jail and on and on. Incredibly the stage management is able to establish all of these locations very realistically. And the music is something else. What a score that sets the story and carries it forward to its conclusion, telling it succinctly.
The story is that Leo Frank is charged with the murder of a 13-year-old girl Mary Phagan (played by Sidney Ahearne) who had come to work in Frank’s factory from Marietta, Georgia. Frank (Evan Rocco) declares his innocence but three other female employees claim he touched them and leeringly invited them one by one to his office and another alleged witness, Jim Conley (Carl Brooks) in a showstopping number “That’s What He Said” furthur implicates Leo. In the trial Leo’s defense attorney is not allowed to present witnesses and there was no defense except for Frank getting up and saying he did not do it. And minutes later he is found guilty and sentenced to death.
But his wife Lucille (Brittany Petronella) does not give up and gets the three women to recant their testimony to Georgia’s Governor Slaton (Martin Reinhardsen) who eventually commutes Frank’s sentence to life in prison. Then Frank taken out of prison is hung by hooded men (like Ku Klux Klansmen) who try to get him to say he is sorry, but Frank steadfastly denies that he killed young Mary.
Evan Rocco and Brittany Petronella lead a very fine cast of singers and dancers in “Parades’ ” many numbers with Christine Gero conducting the Drama Clubs excellent orchestra. Reviewing this production on opening night last Friday I was impressed with every aspect and the fullhouse audience responded with a standing ovation I rate “Parade” at Nyack High School Three Out Of Four Stars!!! It plays again March 23 and 24.