Canadian Premiere of Parade, With Michael Therriault as Wronged Outsider, Opens Jan. 3

News   Canadian Premiere of Parade, With Michael Therriault as Wronged Outsider, Opens Jan. 3
Parade, the Jason Robert Brown-Alfred Uhry musical that was shepherded by Canadians before it won Tony Awards on Broadway, opens Jan. 3 in its Canadian premiere. Michael Therriault, who appeared in Broadway's most recent Fiddler on the Roof, plays Leo Frank. 

Michael Therriault and Tracy Michailidis
Michael Therriault and Tracy Michailidis

Previews began in Toronto on Dec. 30, 2010, for a run through Jan. 22. The tale of bigotry, murder and injustice in the American South was first produced by Canadian impresario Garth Drabinsky, whose production eventually played Lincoln Center Theater in 1998. This new and independent Toronto production is produced by Acting Up Stage Company & Studio 180 Theatre at Berkeley Street Theatre Upstairs.

Studio 180 artistic director Joel Greenberg directs the staging. The company of 15 actors, playing the musical's 40 roles, includes popular names of the Canadian theatre: Two-time Dora winner Michael Therriault (Toronto's The Producers and plays and musicals at the Stratford Festival) as Leo Frank and Tracy Michailidis as his wife Lucille Frank, with Neil Barclay as Officer Ivey/Luther Rosser/Mr. Peavy, Jessica Greenberg as Mary Phagan, Sarite Harris as Essie, Daren A. Herbert as Newt Lee/Jim Conley, Alana Hibbert as Minnie, Jeff Irving as Young Soldier/Frankie/Guard, Gabrielle Jones as Mrs. Phagan, George Masswohl as Old Soldier/Judge Roan, Mark McGrinder as Hugh Dorsey, Paige Robson-Cramer as Monteen, Jordy Rolfe as Iola Stover, Jay Turvey as Gov. Slaton/Britt Craig; and Mark Uhre as Officer Starnes/Tom Watson.

With book by Uhry (Driving Miss Daisy) and music and lyrics by Brown (The Last Five Years, 13), Parade won Tony Awards for Best Book and Best Score, and the Drama Desk and New York Critics Circle Awards for Best Musical. It was co-conceived and directed on Broadway by Harold Prince. The musical was recently revised for a small-cast London production at the Donmar Warehouse; that version was later seen in Los Angeles under the direction of Rob Ashford.

Parade tells the tale of the real-life murder of Mary Phagan, a teen-aged factory girl who was raped and killed in 1913 Atlanta. Leo Frank, a Jewish manager and an outsider in the community, is wrongly accused of the crime. His wife becomes his hero, but darker forces threaten their future.

Musical direction is by Paul Sportelli. The Toronto production team includes set and costume designer Michael Gianfrancesco, lighting designer Kimberly Purtell and stage manager Robert Harding. Since 2004, Acting Up Stage (Mitchell Marcus, artistic producer) has produced "contemporary and provocative musicals" including The Light in the Piazza, Elegies: A Song Cycle, A New Brain and A Man of No Importance. Studio 180 Theatre produces "socially relevant theatre that provokes public discourse and promotes community engagement." Since 2003, its productions have included Stuff Happens, The Overwhelming, The Arab-Israel Cookbook and The Laramie Project.

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