Parade | The CollectiveLeft – Laura Fitzgerald & Luigi Lucente. Cover – David Price. Photos – Angus Scott

Melbourne's brand new music theatre company, The Collective, hurl themselves onto the local scene with a brave and challenging choice for their inaugural season – Parade by Jason Robert Brown (music and lyrics) and Alfred Uhry (book).   

Based on a true and sad story that occurred in Georgia, USA a century ago, this is not a toe-tapping sing-a-long for the family, but rather a dramatic and powerful re-telling of the persecution and hanging of an innocent man for the death of a young girl. The show's title refers to an annual remembrance parade that serves as both a backdrop and time points in the action.  

While the production is far from flawless, this is a powerful and often unsettling experience. Played out in the atmospheric open space of fortyfivedownstairs is both an advantage and a drawback. The audience is immersed in the action and often serves as the onlookers or jury as the court drama unfolds. Some minor sound issues and bad sight lines detract from what is a very accomplished production. 

Director James Cutler, Music Director Cameron Thomas and choreographer David Harford have worked splendidly together to bring this complex piece of theatre to life. Add an impressive lighting design (Jason Bovaird), set design (Alexandra Hiller) and costumes (Nerissa Saville), and The Collective have a great deal to be pleased about.  

But it is the company of talented performers that really bring this story to life in a way that connects almost immediately with the audience. Led by Luigi Lucente (a lovely nuanced performance as Leo Frank) and Laura Fitzpatrick (very strong and controlled as his wife Lucille Frank), the cast includes a number of accomplished performers, including Cameron MacDonaldAndrew DoyleTimothy SpringsCle MorganTod Strike and David Price. The rest of the ensemble add to the success of the performance. 

Word of mouth has spread quickly and it will be difficult to get a ticket to any remaining performances. If you happen to miss out on seeing Parade, then I suggest that you keep track of The Collective. They will be a company to watch.

The Collective presents
music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown | book by Alfred Uhry

Director James Cutler

Venue: fortyfivedownstairs | 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne

Dates: 17 - 28 September 2014
Tickets: $45 – $40

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