It’s Double Take December at Musical Cyberspace! Every musical pretty much has something one likes and something one doesn’t in it. This month I’ll be listing one of each for a range of musicals, a different one each day.
Something I Like: This is the show that gave Jason Robert Brown, in collaboration with Alfred Uhry, something really substantial to write about, allowing him to move away from autobiography and situational angst, thereby allowing us to see more clearly the development of his own voice as a composer. There are some moments of triumph here: the charmingly effusive “The Picture Show”, the compelling “You Don’t Know This Man” and the thrilling “This is Not Over Yet” are among them
Something I Don’t Like: It’s no secret that Brown is not at the top of my list when it comes to him and his musical theatre contemporaries. Here, with the pop music sensibilities that he often uses to temper his work on the back burner, the influence of Stephen Sondheim on Brown’s work becomes even more visible. This is not a bad thing necessarily, but I do wish we could hear Brown click into his own groove as a composer more astutely. That said, the man is an artist and that exploration is part of his journey and something to which he is fully entitled. It’s just that it’s also the reason why Parade musically slips into bombast from time to time and loses its sometimes incredibly keen focus on the very human story at the heart of this show – which is a pity given the very real high points it offers in its score.
Feel free to share your “double take” on Parade in the comment box!