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30 Days of Philly Arts

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30 Days of Philly Arts: Parade opens at Arden Theatre - Day 26

The Arden Theatre Company is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Since its founding in 1988 as a vehicle for great stories on stage, in the classroom, and in the community, the Arden has won scores of awards, locally and from the Wall Street Journal, for its productions and drama school. Even its home in Old City, purchased and renovated in 1995, has won awards.

Opening now and running through November 3 Arden Theatre Company presents Parade, a musical co-conceived by University of Pennsylvania alumnus and Broadway impresario Harold Prince, who directed the original production in New York.

Parade is set in 1913 Atlanta and tells the story of Jewish store owner Leo Frank, who was wrongly accused of murdering a young girl. The dramatic case led to the founding of the Anti Defamation League, a now global organization committted "to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all."

Written by Leo Frank's great nephew, Pulitzer Prize winner Alfred Uhry, Parade does not shy away from dealing with the complex, difficult issues of antisemitism and social justice. As a result, it isn't your standard musical. The New York Times describes it as a,
Serious-minded, somber show... You don't want to be tapping your feet to a sorry spectacle of justice miscarried.
Uhry's story is set to a score by Jason Robert Brown. Both Uhry and Brown received acclaim for their respective contributions, winning the 1999 Tony Awards for best book and best original score, and the play won six Drama Desk Awards.

Arden's version of Parade was presented in 2007 by the London theater Donmar Warehouse. The Donmar version features new songs and won critical praise.

The production features an eight-piece live orchestra and what the Arden is billing as "Philadelphia's most powerful singers." Arden co-founder Terrence J. Nolen directs and Jorge Cousineau is stage designer. The two collaborated on Arden's award-winning 2010 production of Sunday in the Park with George.

For tickets click here and there's subscription info here for this anniversary season.