4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

The Recent Unpleasantness

In the midst of mass hysteria, Leo and wife Lucille fall in love, maybe for the first time.

“You don’t know this man”: Sandy Campbell and Brandon Joel Maier in Cygnet’s Parade.
“You don’t know this man”: Sandy Campbell and Brandon Joel Maier in Cygnet’s Parade.

Bravo, Cygnet Theatre! Their largest production to date easily ranks among their finest. Cygnet’s doing such a magnificent job with Parade, it’s hard to believe the musical had an iffy track record.

Although it earned Tony Awards for book (Alfred Uhry) and score (Jason Robert Brown), Parade ran for only 84 performances. Some said the book was too bulky, others that Broadway is allergic to “serious” musicals. Both may have been accurate. A trimmed version now tours the “provinces” — even Atlanta — with great success. And I’d stack Cygnet’s up against any of them.

Confederate Memorial Day — April 26, 1913 — Atlanta, Georgia: 13-year-old Mary Phagan was found dead in the basement of the National Pencil Company. She’d been raped and strangled. When he paid her wages, superintendent Leo Frank may have been the last to see her alive. He became a magnet for suspicions: he was “nervous” when police interrogated him in the dead of night; and he was a Yankee, educated at Cornell University, and a Jew.

Of the witnesses who paraded through Frank’s trial, several young women alleged that he violated them. Inflamed with anti-Semitism, itching to rush to judgment, Atlanta condemned Frank long before the judge sentenced him to death by hanging.

Like the infamous Dreyfus Affair of the 1890s (a Jew, wrongly accused of treason, condemned to Devil’s Island), Leo Frank ignited an international debate. When the governor commuted Frank’s sentence to life imprisonment in 1915, vigilantes snuck him out of prison. They drove to Marietta, Georgia, near Mary Phagan’s home, and lynched him. None wore masks or hoods. Some took photographs.

Sponsored
Sponsored

The tragedy prompted the return of the Ku Klux Klan and the birth of the Anti-Defamation League.

Two songs set the tone for Parade. Although it ended almost 50 years earlier, in 1913 many Southerners still referred to the Civil War as “the recent unpleasantness.” A full chorus belts out the prologue, “The Old Red Hills of Home.” They yearn for “purer,” antebellum times. The anthem recalls the eerie “Tomorrow Belongs to Me” in Cabaret.

Enter Leo Frank, alone: eyeglasses and frumpish-brown Yankee-style tweed suit (Shirley Pierson’s costumes are fingerprint-precise). When Leo sings a soliloquy, “How Can I Call This Home?” the excellent Brandon Joel Maier performs with his body and his strong, often pleading voice. Ticks and restless hands establish Leo’s “nervousness” long before the police arrive. Maier’s every move sets him apart from his surroundings.

From afar, Parade sounds like yet another “injustice of the month” musical. Uhry, who wrote Driving Miss Daisy and The Last Night of Ballyhoo, re-creates the horror but also transforms his subject. In the midst of mass hysteria, Leo and wife Lucille fall in love, maybe for the first time. They commemorate their bond in a knockout duet, “All the Wasted Time.”

Played by Sandy Campbell, at first Lucille just wants to assimilate. She’s so sheepish and afraid, she may not attend the trial. Then Campbell does an amazing thing: almost imperceptibly Lucille expands and deepens and takes charge. She sings “You Don’t Know This Man” and “Do It Alone” with such conviction it’s hard to imagine anyone else in the role.

Beautifully directed by Sean Murray, with smart, humorous choreography by David Brannen, and Billy Thompson’s eight-piece orchestra, Cygnet’s Parade is almost a contradiction in terms: an ensemble show where everyone stands out.

Bryan Bargarin roars for justice in “A Rumblin’ and a Rollin’.” Bargarin also plays Jim Conley — whose lawyer swore was the real murderer. Geno Carr rages as Tom Watson, publisher of the Jeffersonian (who wrote that the “jewsmedia” manipulated the Frank Affair). As various young men, Jacob Caltrider’s angry vocals weave through the story like a leitmotif.

Two of the most dramatic scenes begin as anything but. One’s a gala. Governor John Slaton and Atlanta’s finest, dressed to the nines, dance the one-step with mile-wide smiles. Lucille Frank enters, interrupts the “pretty music,” and gives the governor life-changing news.

Shortly after he commuted Frank’s sentence, angry mobs and death threats forced the governor and his wife to flee from Georgia. As Slaton, Rick D. Meads fractures the governor’s slick surface with the anguish of a Pilate.

The second scene begins like an older version of Tom Sawyer and Huck. Judge Roan and Hugh Dorsey — Steve Gunderson and David Kirk Grant, both first-rate — loll by a pond with the sun on their backs. As they fish with red poles, they sing of the “old times” and “the old fight.” The judge craftily forecasts Dorsey’s political future: the rabid “lynch-law” advocate will be the next governor of Georgia — and will avenge “the old blood that won’t dry.” ■

Parade, book by Alfred Uhry, music and lyrics, Jason Robert Brown

Cygnet Theatre, 4040 Twiggs Street, Old Town

Directed by Sean Murray; cast: Bryan Barbarin, Jacob Caltrider, Kathleen Calvin, Sandy Campbell, Geno Carr, Gigi Coddington, Briona Daugherty, David Kirk Grant, Steve Gunderson, Dylan Hoffinger, Samantha Littleford, Brandon Joel Maier, Rick D. Meads, Amy Perkins, Tom Stephenson, Katie Whalley; scenic design, Sean Fanning; costumes, Shirley Pierson; lighting, Chris Rynne; sound, Ross Goldman; choreographer, David Brannen; musical director, Billy Thompson

Playing through April 29; Sunday at 7:00 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at 8:00 p.m. Matinee Saturday at 3:00 p.m. and Sunday at 2:00 p.m. 619-337-1525

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Gonzo Report: Bang Bang’s Tokyo subway motif and Chicago house music

It’s a restaurant, it’s a nightclub, it’s a dope photo op
Next Article

The $100,000 gamble in Mission Hills

Editor's picks of Reader stories by David Steinman
“You don’t know this man”: Sandy Campbell and Brandon Joel Maier in Cygnet’s Parade.
“You don’t know this man”: Sandy Campbell and Brandon Joel Maier in Cygnet’s Parade.

Bravo, Cygnet Theatre! Their largest production to date easily ranks among their finest. Cygnet’s doing such a magnificent job with Parade, it’s hard to believe the musical had an iffy track record.

Although it earned Tony Awards for book (Alfred Uhry) and score (Jason Robert Brown), Parade ran for only 84 performances. Some said the book was too bulky, others that Broadway is allergic to “serious” musicals. Both may have been accurate. A trimmed version now tours the “provinces” — even Atlanta — with great success. And I’d stack Cygnet’s up against any of them.

Confederate Memorial Day — April 26, 1913 — Atlanta, Georgia: 13-year-old Mary Phagan was found dead in the basement of the National Pencil Company. She’d been raped and strangled. When he paid her wages, superintendent Leo Frank may have been the last to see her alive. He became a magnet for suspicions: he was “nervous” when police interrogated him in the dead of night; and he was a Yankee, educated at Cornell University, and a Jew.

Of the witnesses who paraded through Frank’s trial, several young women alleged that he violated them. Inflamed with anti-Semitism, itching to rush to judgment, Atlanta condemned Frank long before the judge sentenced him to death by hanging.

Like the infamous Dreyfus Affair of the 1890s (a Jew, wrongly accused of treason, condemned to Devil’s Island), Leo Frank ignited an international debate. When the governor commuted Frank’s sentence to life imprisonment in 1915, vigilantes snuck him out of prison. They drove to Marietta, Georgia, near Mary Phagan’s home, and lynched him. None wore masks or hoods. Some took photographs.

Sponsored
Sponsored

The tragedy prompted the return of the Ku Klux Klan and the birth of the Anti-Defamation League.

Two songs set the tone for Parade. Although it ended almost 50 years earlier, in 1913 many Southerners still referred to the Civil War as “the recent unpleasantness.” A full chorus belts out the prologue, “The Old Red Hills of Home.” They yearn for “purer,” antebellum times. The anthem recalls the eerie “Tomorrow Belongs to Me” in Cabaret.

Enter Leo Frank, alone: eyeglasses and frumpish-brown Yankee-style tweed suit (Shirley Pierson’s costumes are fingerprint-precise). When Leo sings a soliloquy, “How Can I Call This Home?” the excellent Brandon Joel Maier performs with his body and his strong, often pleading voice. Ticks and restless hands establish Leo’s “nervousness” long before the police arrive. Maier’s every move sets him apart from his surroundings.

From afar, Parade sounds like yet another “injustice of the month” musical. Uhry, who wrote Driving Miss Daisy and The Last Night of Ballyhoo, re-creates the horror but also transforms his subject. In the midst of mass hysteria, Leo and wife Lucille fall in love, maybe for the first time. They commemorate their bond in a knockout duet, “All the Wasted Time.”

Played by Sandy Campbell, at first Lucille just wants to assimilate. She’s so sheepish and afraid, she may not attend the trial. Then Campbell does an amazing thing: almost imperceptibly Lucille expands and deepens and takes charge. She sings “You Don’t Know This Man” and “Do It Alone” with such conviction it’s hard to imagine anyone else in the role.

Beautifully directed by Sean Murray, with smart, humorous choreography by David Brannen, and Billy Thompson’s eight-piece orchestra, Cygnet’s Parade is almost a contradiction in terms: an ensemble show where everyone stands out.

Bryan Bargarin roars for justice in “A Rumblin’ and a Rollin’.” Bargarin also plays Jim Conley — whose lawyer swore was the real murderer. Geno Carr rages as Tom Watson, publisher of the Jeffersonian (who wrote that the “jewsmedia” manipulated the Frank Affair). As various young men, Jacob Caltrider’s angry vocals weave through the story like a leitmotif.

Two of the most dramatic scenes begin as anything but. One’s a gala. Governor John Slaton and Atlanta’s finest, dressed to the nines, dance the one-step with mile-wide smiles. Lucille Frank enters, interrupts the “pretty music,” and gives the governor life-changing news.

Shortly after he commuted Frank’s sentence, angry mobs and death threats forced the governor and his wife to flee from Georgia. As Slaton, Rick D. Meads fractures the governor’s slick surface with the anguish of a Pilate.

The second scene begins like an older version of Tom Sawyer and Huck. Judge Roan and Hugh Dorsey — Steve Gunderson and David Kirk Grant, both first-rate — loll by a pond with the sun on their backs. As they fish with red poles, they sing of the “old times” and “the old fight.” The judge craftily forecasts Dorsey’s political future: the rabid “lynch-law” advocate will be the next governor of Georgia — and will avenge “the old blood that won’t dry.” ■

Parade, book by Alfred Uhry, music and lyrics, Jason Robert Brown

Cygnet Theatre, 4040 Twiggs Street, Old Town

Directed by Sean Murray; cast: Bryan Barbarin, Jacob Caltrider, Kathleen Calvin, Sandy Campbell, Geno Carr, Gigi Coddington, Briona Daugherty, David Kirk Grant, Steve Gunderson, Dylan Hoffinger, Samantha Littleford, Brandon Joel Maier, Rick D. Meads, Amy Perkins, Tom Stephenson, Katie Whalley; scenic design, Sean Fanning; costumes, Shirley Pierson; lighting, Chris Rynne; sound, Ross Goldman; choreographer, David Brannen; musical director, Billy Thompson

Playing through April 29; Sunday at 7:00 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at 8:00 p.m. Matinee Saturday at 3:00 p.m. and Sunday at 2:00 p.m. 619-337-1525

Comments
Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Q&A’s Diamonds & Pearls: an intro to oysters

“Diamond” activated charcoal gives it a texture more than a flavor
Next Article

Solo Jared Mattson, schizophrenic Reverend Stickman, festive Stick Figure, opener Nukem, floater Flogging Molly

“I got super into Japanese drifting and boxing.”
Comments

A perfect review, Jeff! I was blown away with the performances, which, imho, were the best I'd seen by the actors with whom I was most familiar! The sparseness of the setting really made way for these actors to shine, yet nothing felt "left out". The development of the love story was so unexpected and so tenderly conceived -- setting a bar for "love" and challenging all its contemporary culture wannabes. This was and is a first-rate production. Sean Murray is a magician!

March 28, 2012

While there are some who give this performance rave reviews, there are many others who are offended by this play, because it falsely accuses Atlanta of indicting and convicting Leo Frank not on the facts, but because of anti-Semitism. The anti-Semitism smear in his play is grotesque, especially since most of you probably never read the Leo Frank Trial Brief of Evidence (1913).

What happened in real life?

The real racism and prejudice of the Leo Frank case is that Leo tried to pin the murder of Mary Phagan on his African-American nightwatchman Newt Lee and when that failed he tried to pin the murder on his African-American janitor.

That's pretty grotesque to blame the the whole thing on Anti-Semitism, when Leo Frank tried to ensare an innocent African American nightwatchman with no criminal record.

April 27, 2012
Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories Fishing Report — What’s getting hooked from ship and shore From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town The Gonzo Report — Making the musical scene, or at least reporting from it Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves Theater — On stage in San Diego this week Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close