PARADE- 2014

NODA (NATIONAL OPERATIC AND DRAMATIC ASSOCIATION) REVIEW OF PARADE

Director – Wayne Carpenter
Choreographer – Jane Granby
Musical Director – Ian Southgate

Performed at The Brentwood Theatre on Wednesday 5 March 2014 at 7.30pm

This is a completely new show to me so, until I read the synopsis in the programme, I did not know what to expect. Based on a true story set in the deep south of America in 1913, it tells the tale of a miscarriage of justice, deeply rooted southern American prejudices and, ultimately, love.

It is quite a dark story and the music was technically very difficult, as it had a lot of discord and complicated harmonies. The company really did it justice, tackling the intricate music with a lot of confidence, although, just occasionally, they were a little tentative starting the singing but, in the main, an excellent job so congratulations to Ian Southgate, the MD, and the company for being prepared to go with it.

Wayne Carpenter played the lead role of Leo Frank as well as directing the production, a difficult task but one that he obviously relishes. His characterisation of the Jewish businessman, trapped in a dilemma over which he has little control was excellent. Fiona Whittaker played his wife Lucille, with great style and empathy, her singing was outstanding. And she displayed some real warmth in the role which came across to us in the audience.

Nic Graham was terrific as the ex-convict Jim Conley, his songs were real belters and he really did them justice. His characterisation was also extremely good, quite a scary interpretation but on the nail. Nicole Clements was delightful as Mary Phagan, a lovely singing voice and a beautiful portrayal of the innocent girl. Matthew Carpenter (Frankie Epps) also gave a strong performance, singing his songs with energy and real passion.

Cheryl Johnson gave a terrific performance as the victim’s mother, Mrs Phagan; she was consistently acting the part and brought the character to life really well. Bob Southgate (Hugh Dorsey) Mark Clements (Tom Watson) and Brian Plumb (Governor Slaton) all produced excellent supporting performances. Peter Brown gave an excellent characterisation as the reporter Britt Craig, nice to see him back at Billericay!

Unfortunately I simply don’t have the space to mention all the characters by name but they all produced excellent performances with some outstanding singing of a very tricky score. The chorus also provided some lovely performances, there was cohesiveness throughout the cast and no-one let the side down.

The scenery was perfect, very simple but very effective and the scene changes were achieved with minimum disruption to the pace of the show. The costumes were, quite simply, outstanding. As a costume maker myself, I can appreciate the work that went into creating the ladies costumes in particular. The use of themed colours in the various scenes really came across and the dresses in the tea dance were particularly attractive. Sound was good, although I did have difficulty hearing some of the singing and I am not sure of this was because the performer was a bit tentative or the mics were not turned up enough.

Lighting was, generally, good, although a bit late coming up on occasions and it was a pity that on a couple of occasions the member of cast was not standing in the right place for the lighting. However these are very minor criticisms and I am sure will be worked out over the next couple of performances.

Overall, another really great show from Billericay and congratulations on taking the risk with an unknown show, I really enjoyed the performance.

Tessa Davies

THE BRENTWOOD THEATRE AWARDS (THE BRENTS) 2014

NOMINATIONS:

Best Design of a Musical

The Gill Wilson Award for Most Imaginative Costume

Best Performance by a Person Aged 18 and under

Matthew Carpenter
Nicole Clements

Best Supporting Actress in a Musical

Nicole Clements

Best Support Actor in a Musical

Peter Brown
Matthew Carpenter
Nik Graham
Brian Plumb
Bob Southgate

Best Performance By An Actress in a Musical

Fiona Whittaker

Best Performance by an Actor in a Musical

Wayne Carpenter

The Kramer Family Best Production of a Musical

AWARDS WE WON:

Best Supporting Actress in a Musical
Nicole Clements

Best Performance by an Actor in a Musical
Wayne Carpenter

Congratulations to all those nominated and especially to Nicole and Wayne for their well deserved wins.

Click here for a review of Parade on Michael Gray’s Art Blog.

Thank you to everyone who made Parade such a sold out success in March 2014!