Set in 1913 Atlanta, Georgia, a young girl is tragically murdered during the Confederate Memorial Day parade in the pencil factory in which she works, and her Jewish, Yankee boss is accused and convicted without much of a trial. The town is in a frenzy reminiscent of The Crucible and wild anti-Semitic tales come out of unreliable sources, creating a tension and distortion of the truth that brings about more heartbreak and destruction.
T.R. Knight, of Grey's Anatomy fame, plays Leo Frank, the man accused of murder, with perfect meticulous, controlling tics required for the often-cold, displaced Brooklyn Jew. His wonderful speech patterns conveyed his change from a distant, difficult husband to a loving and appreciative one. His wife Lucille, played by original London Donmar cast member Lara Pulver, has an effortless, beautiful voice that also shapes her journey from a meek and lonely housewife to a powerful woman determined to seek justice for her husband at all costs. The entire ensemble was great at playing multiple characters, but one standout actor was David St. Louis, whose physical and vocal power on stage left the audience in awe.
Tony-award winning composer Jason Robert Brown was in the audience the night that I saw the show, and it was so fun to watch him watch his own work. He was mouthing the words and conducting from his own score from his seat, and absolutely beamed whenever the audience laughed at his words. The visual appeal of this show was outstanding: There was a tattered old gray painting of a Confederate scene hanging over the factory, which at times was lit to restore its full color, or even evoke other images altogether.
If you can get to downtown Los Angeles before November 15th, go see this beautiful show. The Mark Taper Forum is a part of Center Theatre Group and so has the Hot Tix program, where every performance has tickets available for $20. Definitely worth it for this story.