‘Parade’ opens under the Corn Stock Tent on Aug. 4 – Morton Times-News

PEORIA Parade, a Tony Award-winning musical about religious intolerance, political injustice, and racial tension, opens Friday, Aug. 4, at Corn Stock Theatre.

Parade is one of the most important musical theater productions ever written, said director Deric Kimler. It is a true story that took place during the lead up of World War I and follows the ‘parade’ of events and individual agendas surrounding the case of Mary Phagan.

The drama centers on the 1913 conviction of Jewish factory manager Leo Frank after he is accused of raping and murdering 13-year-old Mary Phagan, a factory worker. Sensationalized by the media, the events arouse antisemitic sentiments in Georgia. When Franks death sentence is commuted, he is seized by a lynching party and hung from an oak tree in Marietta. The case fired up the Ku Klux Klan and led to the formation of the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish Civil Rights organization.

Portraying the lead role of Leo Frank, Peoria native Dustin Presley has returned from New York City, where he has spent the past decade working as an actor, filmmaker and casting director.

“Every once in awhile, life gives you an opportunity to do something meaningful and important with your art. For me, portraying Leo Frank in the musical “Parade” is that opportunity, said Presley. Ive wanted to play this role since I first listened to the cast album many years ago. I immediately fell in love with the beautiful and intricate music of Jason Robert Brown.

A graduate of both Roosevelt Universitys Chicago College of the Performing Arts and the American Musical and Dramatic Academy for musical theater, Presley grew up doing shows in Peoria and is fond of performing in Corn Stocks uniquely intimate space.

For a few years now, Ive been looking for an excuse to come back to the community that nurtured my skills as a young actor, he said. Being able to do this particular show under the tent, surrounded by amazing local talent, is an absolute dream come true.

Shows are at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 4-12. Tickets are $22/adults, $17/students and are available by calling 676-2196 or online at cornstocktheatre.com. The Corn Stock Theatre tent is located in upper Bradley Park, 1700 N. Park Road.

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‘Parade’ opens under the Corn Stock Tent on Aug. 4 – Morton Times-News

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