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“Parade”  


‘Parade’ was an unknown to me, but I found it a powerful production, with excellent performances, particularly taking into account that the majority of the performers were only in their early twenties, and some even younger.  Just shows what a good Director and MD can do with their cast.  A balance was achieved with the presence of more mature performers, although no-one would pinpoint the age differences from the performance values.


The static set worked well, as the show flowed seamlessly, however we had a real problem with sound, and a small problem with lighting.  


The lighting problem was mainly in the first jail scene when the overhead lights did not transfer correctly, but luckily the actor had the wit to carry on with his lib – and eventually the lights caught up with him, the second instance was towards the end, when the actor started singing but wasn’t lit, not brilliant.


However, the sound was a real drawback.  In a production like ‘Parade’ every word counts for the overall understanding of the piece, but we missed quite a large chunk in various places.  There were late mic cues all over the place, and at the top of Act 2 we didn’t hear anything the Governor and his wife said.  I thought Lucille and Jim’s mics were of poor sound quality, the former being rather harsh sounding, and the latter being too low to really give the impact of the words. The Judge’s mic was very poor, as were a couple of the other peoples, and everything on the top rostra was very indistinct.  Not what one would expect.


That said the cast were tiptop – particularly Connor Dyer as Leo Frank, such understanding and expression in everything he did, both words and body language, and he was well-matched by Casey Bird as his wife Lucille – she gave the part reality, with them creating an authentic relationship.  Musically both were very sound.


I loved the performance of Alfie Glasser – he has improved so much over the years, and sang with such energy and expressiveness.


James Penniston was also a revelation in the intensity of his performance – at one point he was looking out into the audience whilst singing, his eyes were piercing and so intense I felt genuinely frightened.


Two other young men who also gave diverse but telling performances were George Watkins and Joshua Luke. Such mature performances for relatively young people, and again their voices fitted into the parts so well.


I thought Adrian Fergus-Fuller got the rather happy-go-lucky feel of Jim very well, with again, much expression, but hampered by the sound issues mentioned.


There were so many good performances, which I enjoyed, but this seemed to be dominated by the young men and Casey as the most memorable.


I can’t praise Dan Cowtan enough for the musical excellence he achieved with the cast, there were some super voices on stage – and the chorus numbers were beautiful, lovely harmonies.  The music did not sound easy – so well done to everyone.  I liked the intensity of the percussion throughout the production, which was laid down at the outset with the drum being the commencement of the production – it gave such a tremendous background for what was to follow.


There were some costume issues, particularly gents shoes – grey shoes with black tie was not a good look, and the new fashion for black shoes with a tan sole is totally out of keeping for the era – especially when attention to hairstyles and costumes were so good.


The drama of the story was enhanced by the superlative performances and wonderful voices of the cast – I was very impressed, as were audience members who knew nothing about Vivo D’Arte, and were astonished that a) they are amateurs, and b) they were so young in the main.  So congratulations to everyone, you can be justly proud of yourselves.




VIVO D’ARTE

PARADE” date: 11th June 2015

Watford Palace Theatre

Director: Lin Instone  MD: Dan Cowtan


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