Wednesday is a two-show day on Broadway, and I saw a couple of major productions of the season. At the matinee I saw Parade (after the canceled performance when I first arrived in town on Saturday), and in the evening, I saw Some Like It Hot, the new musical adaptation based on the 1959 Billy Wilder classic film comedy.
Parade is a revival of the show that first opened in 1998: the Broadway debut of Jason Robert Brown that brought him his first Tony Award for best score. Based on the TV movie The Murder of Mary Phagan, it centers on Leo Frank, Jewish Brooklynite who relocates to Georgia for a job as supervisor of a pencil factory. When a young employee is found dead in the factory’s basement, Frank is accused of killing her, tried, convicted and sentenced to be hanged.
The original production ran a mere 85 performances, despite positive reviews. What made this revival so anticipated was the casting of Ben Platt (Tony winner for Dear Evan Hansen) as Leo Frank. He did not disappoint, but even more impressive was Micaela Diamond (the youngest Cher in The Cher Show) as Leo’s determined wife, Lucille.
Some Like It Hot, the tale of two musicians who witness a gangland massacre and flee Chicago for their lives disguised as women in an all-girl band, had previously been musicalized as Sugar in 1972. That has not stopped Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman (of Hairspray fame) from redoing the show, updating it slightly to the days of Prohibition, and giving it a contemporary spin on gender politics.
Co-starring with Christian Borle is J. Harrison Ghee, a non-binary performer who previously played Lola in Kinky Boots. He redefines the role played by Jack Lemmon in the movie and anchors the stage musical. The show is big, brassy and very audience-friendly, destined, I believe, for multiple Tony Awards and a long, lucrative run.