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25 Bluehouse Lane, Oxted, Surrey
RH8 0AA.

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A Review of Parade for The Cornishman by Jenni Balow
8th August 2013

Outstanding Drama that Never Falters Out on Parade

This is a magnificent musical, and a stunning and powerful production, but there isn't much Southern comfort in this true story surrounding the murder of a 13 year old factory girl in Atlanta, Georgia, and the conviction of her Jewish boss a century ago.

The title of the book refers to the Confederate Memorial Day Parade, during which young Mary Phagan is killed, after collecting her pay from Leo Frank, the factory superintendent, a fastidious and twitchy Jew, who hails from Brooklyn a long way to the north and is finding that "being in the South is like a foreign land''.

It was written by Alfred Uhry, who researched thousands of pages of testimonies from the month long trial. Chief among Frank's accusers is Jim Conley, one of the factory's black workers, and it is that racial mix that sparked huge interest from the Press, and politically weighted public protests from all sides.

The award winning Jason Robert Brown wrote the music and lyrics with the accent on the soul, gospel and blues of the South and The Barnstormers musical director Patrick Isbell and his orchestra, plus a huge cast and ensemble give us an aptly barnstorming blast of sound.

The stage is set by a huge American oak tree, brilliantly designed by Jill 'Wigs' Wilson with Martin Beatty, giving shade during the colourful flag-waving parade and the Governor's tea dance, and playing its poignant part in the ultimately shocking end, in this production by Richard Allen and director Paul Longhurst, choreographed by Fran Newitt, with costumes by Monica Mickels.

There are many principals both amateur and professional, and they are all outstandingly good, and most especially Elizabeth Skinner as Lucille Frank, a superb singer and actor, Dominic Binefa, as her husband, Marcus Ayton as Jim Conley with his chain gang, Colin Warnock as the Governor, Steve Green as Dorsey, Charlotte Antoinette Mills, and Folarin Akinmade and Katanya Pierre-Louis, singing A Rumblin' and A Rollin'.

Was Frank guilty? We'll never know, but there's no doubt that the drama and intensity never waned on this Parade.


From another Minack actor

Hi Phil

Just felt I had to e-mail you to say how much we enjoyed last week's production of Parade. Quite the best show I have seen at the Minack and though we had our doubts about the play itself before hand, our worries were soon rectified. They are a talented bunch; I always feel the bench mark for a company is strength in depth and there wasn't a weak performance among the 60 strong cast. I shall look out for them in future years and hopefully see another of their producions.

From: Neill Wilson
Sent: 07 August 2013 18:51
Subject: parade at the Minnack.

Dear Richard,

Thank you very much for the performance of 'Parade', at the Minnack. My wife and our two friends saw the matinee performance today.
I was unfamiliar as we all were with the story of Leo Frank. The company played the story very well I thought after they overcame the initial nerves. The Minnack is an apposing venue for any theatrical company to play. The Barnstormers took to the challenge and in my opinion and my party's, a West End production would have been hard pressed to come up to the standard shown today . The female voices were a lot louder than the males and this, distorted the soundly a tad but the sound engineer seemed on the ball and appeared to have rectified the little issue. As an author myself I tried not to be critical and just enjoy the performance. I felt that the first part of the show wasn't entirely needed, albeit an important part of the tale. For myself I would have begun the show at the memorial day celebrations with 'The Old' soldier doing a reminiscence number. But that is just me please don't take any offence at this. I just found the front end confusing as I was swept along with Leo's story. Anyway it didn't take anything from the talent and performances. The ending was somewhat thought provoking and sad. Hindsight tells me that this would have been even more so compelling a show if we had seen the evening performance. Lamplight and torchlight is very atmospheric at the Minnack in the evening.
What a great show and hard work by the production team as well as the performers. I would highly recommend people to come and watch the barnstormers. We shall be looking out for the company in the future.
Please pass on my warmest congratulations to the cast they were all stars.

Kind Regards

Stanley Wilson

Sent: 14 August 2013 16:09
Subject: Parade at the Minack


My husband and I saw the production on Tuesday evening and we both thoroughly enjoyed the performance. We are regulars every summer at the Minack and we both agreed this is one of the best productions we have seen here. Brilliantly executed, very dramatic and the quality of the acting, singing (what magnificent voices Elizabeth and Domininc have) and music made the evening totally absorbing. Please pass on our congratulations to all the troupe.


Lynda and Dennis Tailor

From: Andrea Cox
Sent: 20 August 2013 07:30
Subject: Parade

Good morning,
We saw your fabulous performance of Parade, whilst we were holidaying in West Cornwall, recently.
As we were all so enthralled by your adaptation, I've looked on your website to see if we may have an opportunity to see it for a second time, possibly at Oxsted (or elsewhere!). I fear we have 'missed the boat' but I thought I'd take a chance by e mailing you to enquire.
Congratulations to everyone involved in such a fantastic show!

A selection of photographs at the Minack Theatre by Pete Marr and others

The Barnstormers are delighted to announce that they will be returning to the world famous open-air Minack Theatre, Cornwall in 2013with the powerful Tony Award winning musical 'Parade'. This dramatic and poignant musical by Jason Robert Brown and Alfred Uhry will be staged at the Minack Theatre from Monday 5th to Friday 9th August 2013. There will also be local open-air performances on the tennis courts of 'The Larks', 19 Bluehouse Lane, Oxted (access via the Barn Theatre) prior to the Minack tour. These performances witll be on Saturday 27th July at 1.00pm and 5.00pm and Sunday 28th July at 2.30pm.

'Parade' is the tragic, true life story of a man wrongly accused of murder, brought to emotional and theatrical life by acclaimed playwright Alfred Uhry ("Driving Miss Daisy") and Jason Robert Brown ("Songs For A New World", "Last Five Years").

In 1913, Leo Frank, a Brooklyn-born Jew living in Atlanta, Georgia, is put on trial for the murder of 13-year-old Mary Phagan, a factory worker under his employ - the murder having taken place during the Confederate Memorial Day Parade (hence the title of the piece). Already guilty in the eyes of everyone around him, the sensationalist press, a politically motivated prosecution team and a janitor's false testimony seal Leo's fate. In fact the only person who eventually steps forward in his defence is his wife, Lucille, who finds the strength and love to become his greatest champion.

This show has a powerful and gripping storyline and some truly wonderful music drawing on influences from Sondheim to rhythm and blues and gospel. In dramatizing the story, Prince and Uhry have emphasized the evolving relationship between Leo and his wife Lucille, with their relationship shifting from cold to warm. The poignancy of the couple, who fall in love in the midst of adversity, is the core of the work, and it makes the tragic outcome - the miscarriage of justice - even more disturbing.

'Parade' was first produced on Broadway in 1998. This production directed by the great Harold Prince won Tony Awards for best book and best score and six Drama Desk Awards. The Barnstormers are licensed to perform a reworked version of the show first presented at the Donmar Theatre in London in 2007 and they will once again be looking for a large cast and backstage team to do this production justice down at the Minack.

The highly talented production team is headed up by Paul Longhurst (Director), Patrick Isbell (Musical Director) and Fran Newitt (Choreographer) and production & set design is once again in the wonderfully creative hands of Jill 'Wigs' Wilson. As with every Minack tour, the Barn's directors and trustees will form the backbone of the technical team and of course bring with them a wealth of experience.

Please visit for loads more information about the show or check out their Facebook group "Parade at the Minack Theatre - August 2013". Contact Richard Allen on / 07979 650901 to register your interest in auditioning or helping backstage/front of house during the Minack tour.