After much anticipation the opening night of Parade, SUSU Showstoppers’ main show, began in the Nuffield Theatre. A dramatic opening solo from Chris Foxwell set the tone of the show.
Parade follows the story of Leo Franks, played brilliantly by Freddie Bowen, who is accused of the murder of the 14 farm girl Mary Phagan. Bowen convincingly portrays the uphill struggle that the story follows, particularly after the trial scene – you are drawn into the continual fear Leo experiences.
The serious nature of Parade is handled well by the entire cast, especially Jez Roberts as the Governor of Georgia and Alex Clements who plays the dubious District Attorney Hugh Dorsey. Parade continually deals with upsetting and difficult emotions; one which worked particularly well was the funeral of Mary Phagan which had a stunning performance from Toby Hasler-Winter. The ensemble can’t go without a mention; they consistently provided consistent acting along with singing that leaves you with goosebumps.
The star of the show has to be Emma Byrant, who plays Leo’s wife Lucile. Her acting is spot on throughout, as she gives a breathtakingly good characterization of Lucile’s traumas. Along with this, her singing is faultless. Time and again you are emotionally pulled into Parade due to her or her interaction with other characters.
Unfortunately, whether it was due to a lack of preparation or concentration, the show was let down multiple times by tech issues. They were significant enough to take you out of the piece and undermine the work by the performers, even if only briefly.
The overall direction on the piece was brilliant, the cast were well drilled in their choreography and there was no real sense of a scene being dragged out or rushed and the pacing was managed exceptionally well. Musically the band were excellent too and any mistakes made were unnoticeable.
Parade was an exceptional experience. Every actor and actress was convincing, the direction and production were strong and the singing and music pitch perfect. Even the tech issues shouldn’t pose a huge problem assuming they’ll lessen as the show goes on.
Make sure to get tickets here! Parade runs until Saturday 16th in the Nuffield Theatre.