There’s so much darkness around Ben Platt in his new role Broadway these days, she countered it with a touch of flare. “I painted my o pink so that my dressing room would be a very bright, warm and happy place, so that I could leave what happens on stage on stage,” explains the protagonist.
Platt he deserves all the joy he can get playing the lead role of the doomed anti-hero in the musical Paradeadapted from a true story that took place in Atlanta just before the First World War. perform a Leo Frank, a Brooklyn-born Jewish factory manager falsely accused of murdering a young woman. He is tried and found guilty, his death sentence is commuted, but he is then lynched by a southern mob who do not like his religion and his northern values.
“It’s really a human story about how people, because of the traumas of their past, can’t escape the prejudices of their present,” says the show’s director, Michael Arden.
The musical is revived in Broadway just as the United States is witnessing another wave of anti-Semitism, which has brought darkness right to the theater doors. The preview of the show was marred by a few neo-Nazi protesters outside. It only showed Platt And the rest of the team Parade that reintroducing this musical is the right thing to do in the face of bigotry and bullying.
“I think both in terms of specific anti-Semitism and in terms of the horrors of social media and online mob mentality, it feels too contemporary,” he says. Platt and to add: “everyone could feel very clearly that it was the right job at this very moment and that there was really a reason to do it”.
This is the first return of Platt A Broadway since her starring role in Dear Evan Hansenwhich earned him a Tony and one grammys and propelled her career to TV shows like The politician and a recording contract with Atlantic Records. The new musical opens next Thursday the 16th at the theater Bernard B. Jacobs.
Platt qualifies Parade as a “hidden gem” of musical theater and grew up listening to his songs. In 1998, when it was first released, it was very well received by critics – and went on to win two Tony for best book and score-, but left the bill after a few months, despite a story from the author of Driving Miss Daisy Alfred Hungaryand the music and lyrics of Jason Robert Brown. Platt says he was ahead of his time.
“I think people weren’t ready to hear it at the time. There’s a lot of gray in this show, and it’s also a piece that keeps racism and anti-Semitism in the same conversation and highlights that both are products, especially in the United States, of the same system of white supremacy. “comments the actor.
Behind the legal drama lies another: the story of two people, Frank and his wife, Lucille, whose relationship grows stronger as their lives become more complicated. Micaela Diamond plays the role of Lucille here, and this is the first time that Jewish actors have directed a professional production of Parade of this magnitude. “Hopefully this is an opportunity for those who aren’t already enjoying it to get something that maybe they should have gotten in the first place,” Platt says.
What viewers will find is a complex portrayal of Frank, a difficult and often disagreeable man who dislikes the South and complains about its food when he is first thrown into jail. This challenge attracted Ben Platt. “There is a certain moral challenge and a certain ambiguity. I think that’s an important message when you represent someone who has been oppressed or victimized, let alone a real person. Just because someone isn’t perfect and totally virtuous doesn’t mean they don’t deserve justice and truth.”
Michael Arden He grew up in Midland, Texas, listening to Broadway records and was “just transported by the sheet music” of Parade. He saw a video capture of the original broadcast and also an edited version by the Donmar warehouse in 2007. “Rarely do we have the opportunity to go to the theater and be challenged to reflect on our own shortcomings and eliminate the darkness of our past,” he says. “We have to re-examine our past or we will repeat it.”
Arden He hopes his staging focused on the intimacy of the wedding, and stripped down the musical, without too many sets or big display. “We present this work as a test for the audience to form their own opinion about something, instead of necessarily trying to paint the whole picture like a film or perhaps the original production would,” says- he.
It is a difficult, often heartbreaking spectacle, and Platt she stages herself each night in her pink dressing room with a few key pieces: a framed photo of Leo and Lucille Frank taken at their happiest. “I think it helps me remember that the main purpose is to honor them and show the love and humanity that unites them as much or more than the tragedy that happened to them,” he says.
There is also a photo of him with his girlfriend, Noah Galvin, and his family, including one from his brother’s bar mitzvah. He calls them “reminders of where I come from and what I have to go home with, what Leo didn’t have to come home with”.
“As traumatic and dark as this particular story is, my greatest joy in life is being in the theater,” he adds. “Even going through something like this and finding my way emotionally, I go home with such fulfillment and satisfaction because this is truly my dream.”