Manicone makes New York City stage debut

Leslie Oh, Art Director

Madison’s very own Sophia Manicone (’23) recently starred in an Off-Broadway production of “Parade” this November at the New York City Center.

The musical features Ben Platt, best known for his lead role in “Dear Evan Hansen,” and Micaela Diamond from “The Cher Show,” as the main leads of the musical. “Parade” also features Gaten Matarazzo, best known for his role in the Netflix TV show “Stranger Things.”

“My favorite part about working with those incredible people was seeing how kind they are,” Manicone said. “It was so inspiring to see that these people found success with grace and a positive spirit. It was really cool seeing that they are just normal people too!”

“Parade” is a musical which examines antisemitism and race issues in the early 1900s. Leo Frank, the main character who is played by Ben Platt, is wrongfully accused of the rape and murder of Mary Phagan, a young employee found dead in his factory. The citizens of Atlanta band against Frank when the prosecutor fabricates evidence to ensure he gets a conviction. Eventually, the governor commutes Frank’s sentence from death to imprisonment for life, but an angry mob kidnaps and lynches Frank. Manicone’s character, Iola Stover, is a teenage factory worker who falsely testifies against Frank.

Manicone’s life is very different from other people her age, growing up doing professional theater. She learned early on how to interact with adults and was cast in a leading role in a professional production for the first time in sixth grade. Manicone had to give up many social aspects of her life in order to make it to rehearsals, training, and performances.

“Freshman year was the first time I really saw how different I was,” Manicone said. “I was doing a professional show and we had eight shows a week. We had matinees on Wednesdays that I would sometimes have to miss school for. On top of all this, I had 9 hours of dance a week, voice lessons, and acting lessons. I couldn’t go to football games with friends, or stay out late at night before a show. I learned a lot about responsibility so I could show up fully for my cast mates and put on a good performance for the audience. That’s a lesson I carried with me during my experience in NYC.”

Manicone had to leave school for New York City in October to rehearse and return after the production had its final showing. Manicone continued to do the work assigned from Madison asynchronously, communicating with her teachers to keep up with work, and receiving help from a tutor.

“The hardest part was when we would have school right before a show,” Manicone said. “The day after opening night, I got home at 2 a.m. from the opening night Gala and had school from 3-6 p.m. and then a show at 7:30 p.m. All the reviews were coming out and it was super hard to focus.”

Manicone’s experience in New York City is one solely unique to her, as no one else has been on that particular stage with all those specific actors and actresses before.

“Seeing the loving community and sense of support within the cast was my favorite part,” Manicone said. “We were all one big team cheering each other on! It’s so inspiring to be surrounded by people who are just as passionate and devoted to their art as you are. And of course, being surrounded by such an incredibly talented and credentialed group of actors each day, hearing them sing together, and watching as they developed their characters was something I will never forget.”