Parade opens Thursday, speaks to issues still relevant in society

While “Parade” explores racism and anti-Semitism, there’s also a deeper story, a love story.

Produced as George Fox University’s annual musical, “Parade” was a Tony Award winner in 1999, but director Rhett Luedtke said it hadn’t gained popularity until recently.

“When it was originally produced, it had many more characters and was a half-hour longer,” Luedtke said. “(In 2007) in London it was reduced to a reasonable size.”by: GARY ALLEN - Deeper meaning - ‘Parade' explores racism and anti-Semitism. Katie Wight (Mary) and Randy Lingo (Frankie) rehearse for the Jan. 30 opening.

With 21 students, and months of rehearsals, the musical opens Jan. 30.

“It’s a beautiful musical, it’s one of my top favorite musicals of all time,” Luedtke said.

The story follows Leon Frank, a Jewish factory worker living in 1913 Atlanta when he’s wrongly accused of murdering a 13-year-old girl.

“The musical speaks to racism and anti-Semitism in the county, meanwhile in the two hours you’re getting a love story,” he said. “There’s a lot of good things going on.”

While he said it’s certainly an entertaining evening, it raises a lot of issues that still challenge society today.

“Last year there were over 6,500 hate crimes in the states,” he said. “That’s a lot of hate crimes for a country that believes in equality and justice.”

But Luedtke said there’s another reason he loves the play.

“It doesn’t let Leon off the hook either, because he has his own set of prejudices against the South,” he said. “Amidst the story of inequality is part of the solution, to love deeper. And the music is great too.”

He said it’s not a fluffy musical, so he recommends viewers be at least 10 years old.

“My son is in sixth grade and he’s coming, and I would’ve felt comfortable bringing him last year,” he said. “Less than that and they might not be able to understand the concepts.”

“Parade” runs Jan. 30 to Feb. 2 and Feb. 6 to Feb. 9 in GFU Wood-Mar Auditorium. Tickets are $12, $8 for seniors and GFU alumni and $6 for students and children less than 12. To purchase tickets, visit

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