Since the first Broadway production of Parade in 1998, no Jewish actor nor actress has portrayed the lead roles of Leo and Lucille Frank, two American Jews who were victims of antisemitism in the early 1900s. In the 2023 Broadway revival, Ben Platt and Micaela Diamond, both of Jewish heritage, have taken on these real characters and because of their Jewish backgrounds, provided audiences with a more truthful and raw portrayal of the Franks than has been seen before. “It feels meaningful,” explained Diamond, who has been Tony nominated for the role, in an EXCLUSIVE interview with HollywoodLife.com. “It just connects.”
Diamond recalled another interview, in which she was asked whether she felt “more pressure” to tell the story because she was Jewish. “I don’t,” the 23-year-old told HL. “I feel less pressure. There’s no hat on a hat here.” At the same time, she admitted, “it’s gray, it’s nuanced.” “I don’t think Jewish people have to play only Jewish roles, but I do think when it happens, it really connects to the Jews in the audience in a different way,” she added.
Parade tells the real story of Jewish American Leo Frank, who was accused and convicted of raping a thirteen-year-old employee in 1913. The musical follows his trial, imprisonment and lynching, which eventually led to the formation of the Jewish Civil Rights organization, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). Diamond’s portrayal of Leo’s wife Lucille has been noted as a standout performance in nearly every review and the show has received 6 Tony Award nominations.
She went on to explain how her and co-star Ben Platt’s Judaism allowed director Michael Arden to add more depictions of Jewish culture and religion within the roles. “There’s so many moments he was able to create and reinvent that weren’t necessarily in the script that we get to do because we know the prayers,” the Tony nom explained. “At the beginning of Act Two, we get to light the Shabbat candles and nothing is being put on in that moment. To me, that’s really special.”
Arden mimicked Diamond’s statements abut her Jewish background helping round out her character on stage while also speaking to HL at the Tony’s Meet The Nominees event. “It’s been just the blessing of my career to get to support them as they play these people,” the Tony nominated director praised Diamond and Plat. “To let their faith shine and support that — they’re just the best leaders of a company.” Arden added that his nomination “represents all the people in the cast.”
This interview is part of HollywoodLife’s Tony Contenders series, in which we interview the biggest current stars on Broadway who are in contention for the upcoming Tony Awards on June 11, 2023.