Parade (musical)

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For the 1960 revue, see Parade (revue).
Parade
Music Jason Robert Brown
Lyrics Jason Robert Brown
Book Alfred Uhry
Basis Historical events in Atlanta in 1913
Productions 1998 Broadway
2006 Australia
2007 West End
2007 Ireland
2009 Los Angeles
2011 West End
Awards Tony Award for Best Score
Tony Award for Best Book

Parade is a musical with a book by Alfred Uhry and music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown. The musical was first produced on Broadway at the Vivian Beaumont Theater on December 17, 1998. The production was directed by Harold Prince and closed February 28, 1999, after 39 previews and only 84 regular performances. It starred Brent Carver as Leo Frank, Carolee Carmello as Lucille Frank, and Christy Carlson Romano as Mary Phagan.

The musical won Tony Awards for Best Book and Best Original Score (out of nine nominations) and six Drama Desk Awards. The show has enjoyed a U.S. national tour and numerous professional and amateur productions in both the U.S. and abroad.

Historical background[edit]

The first day of the trial. Spectators were racially segregated. The stenographer can be seen next to Newt Lee, who is being questioned by prosecutor Hugh Dorsey.
Prosecutor Hugh Dorsey, later governor of Georgia
Lead defense lawyer Luther Rosser.

The musical dramatizes the 1913 trial of Jewish factory manager Leo Frank, who was accused and convicted of raping and murdering a thirteen-year-old employee, Mary Phagan. The trial, sensationalized by the media, aroused antisemitic tensions in Atlanta and the U.S. state of Georgia. When Frank's death sentence was commuted to life in prison by the departing Governor of Georgia, John M. Slaton due to his detailed review of over 10,000 pages of testimony and possible problems with the trial, Leo Frank was transferred to a prison in Milledgeville, Georgia, where a lynching party seized and kidnapped him. Frank was taken to Phagan's hometown of Marietta, Georgia, and he was hanged from an oak tree. The events surrounding the investigation and trial led to two groups emerging, the revival of the defunct KKK and the birth of a premier Jewish Civil Rights organization. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) was formed in response to the antisemitism surrounding Leo Frank's trial and lynching.[1]

History of the musical[edit]

Prince turned to Brown to write the score after Stephen Sondheim turned the project down.[citation needed] Prince's daughter, Daisy, had brought Brown to her father's attention. Uhry, who grew up in Atlanta, had personal knowledge of the Frank story, as his great-uncle owned the pencil factory run by Leo Frank.[2]

In dramatizing the story, Prince and Uhry have emphasized the evolving relationship between Leo and his wife Lucille.[3] Their relationship shifts from cold to warm in songs like "Leo at Work/What am I Waiting For?," "You Don't Know This Man," "Do it Alone," and "All the Wasted Time". The poignancy of the couple, who fall in love in the midst of adversity, is the core of the work. It makes the tragic outcome - the miscarriage of justice - even more disturbing.[4]

The show was Brown's first Broadway production. His music has "subtle and appealing melodies that draw on a variety of influences, from pop-rock to folk to rhythm and blues and gospel." [3]

The plot of the musical dramatizes the historical story and does not shy away from the conclusion of some that the likely killer was the factory janitor Jim Conley, the key witness against Frank at the trial. The true villains of the piece are portrayed as the prosecutor Hugh Dorsey (later the governor of Georgia and then a judge) and the rabid publisher Tom Watson (later elected a U.S. senator).

Plot[edit]

Act I[edit]

We are in Marietta, Georgia, in the time of the American Civil War. The sounds of drums herald the appearance of a young Confederate soldier, bidding farewell to his sweetheart as he goes to fight for his homeland. The years pass and suddenly it is 1913. The young soldier has become an old one-legged veteran who is preparing to march in the annual Confederate Memorial Day parade ("The Old Red Hills of Home"). As the Parade begins ("The Dream of Atlanta"), Leo Frank, a Yankee Jew from Brooklyn, NYC, is deeply uncomfortable in the town in which he works and lives, feeling out of place due to his Judaism and his college education ("How Can I Call This Home?"). His discomfort is present even in his relationship with his wife, Lucille, who has planned an outdoor meal spoiled by Leo’s decision to go into work on a holiday. Meanwhile, two local teens, Frankie Epps and Mary Phagan, ride a trolley car and flirt. Frankie wants Mary to go to the picture show with him, but Mary playfully resists, insisting her mother will not let her ("The Picture Show"). Mary leaves to collect her pay from the pencil factory managed by Frank.

While Frank is at work, Lucille bemoans the state of their marriage, believing herself unappreciated by a man so wrapped up in himself. She reflects on her unfulfilled life and wonders whether or not Leo was the right match for her ("Leo at Work" / "What Am I Waiting For?"). Mary Phagan arrives in Leo's office to collect her paycheck. That night, two policeman, Detective Starnes and Officer Ivey, rouse Frank from his sleep, and without telling him why, demand he accompany them to the factory, where the body of Mary Phagan has been found raped and murdered in the basement. The police immediately suspect Newt Lee, the African-American night watchman who discovered the body ("Interrogation"). Throughout his interrogation, he maintains his innocence, but inadvertently directs the suspicion of the police upon Frank, who did not answer his telephone when Lee called him to report the incident. Frank is arrested, but not charged, and Mrs. Phagan, Mary's mother, and her younger daughter, Lizzie, become aware of Mary's death.

Across town, a reporter named Britt Craig is informed about Mary's murder and sees the possibility of a career-making story ("Big News").

In the meantime, Governor Slaton pressures the local prosecutor Hugh Dorsey to get to the bottom of the whole affair. Dorsey, an ambitious politician with a "lousy conviction record", resolves to find the murderer.

At Mary's funeral, the townspeople of Marietta are angry, mournful, and baffled by the tragedy that has so unexpectedly shattered the community. ("There is a Fountain" / "It Don't Make Sense"). Frankie Epps swears revenge on Mary's killer, as does Tom Watson, a writer for The Jeffersonian, an extremist right-wing newspaper ("Tom Watson's Lullaby").

Later on, Dorsey, along with Starnes and Ivey interrogate Newt Lee, but they get no information. Dorsey releases Newt, reasoning that "hanging another Nigra ain't enough this time. We gotta do better." He then attaches the blame to Leo Frank, and sends Starnes and Ivey out to find eyewitnesses ("Something Ain't Right"). Craig exalts in his opportunity to cover a "real" story and begins an effective campaign vilifying Leo Frank. ("Real Big News").

We then meet Luther Z. Rosser, Leo’s lawyer, who vows to "win this case, and send him home". Meanwhile, Dorsey makes a deal with factory janitor and ex-convict Jim Conley to testify against Frank in exchange for immunity for a previous escape from Prison. Lucille, hounded by reporters, collapses from the strain and privately rebukes Craig when he attempts to get an interview ("You Don't Know This Man"). She tells her husband that she cannot bear to see his trial, but he begs her to stay in the courtroom, as her not appearing would make him look guilty.

The Trial of Leo Frank begins, presided over by Judge Roan. A hysterical crowd gathers outside the courtroom, as Tom Watson spews invective ("Hammer of Justice") and Hugh Dorsey begins the case for the prosecution ("Twenty Miles from Marietta"). The prosecution produces a series of witnesses, most of whom give trumped evidence which was clearly fed to them by Dorsey. Frankie Epps testifies, falsely, that Mary mentioned that Frank "looks at her funny" when they last spoke, a sentiment echoed verbatim by three of Mary’s teenage co-workers, Iola, Essie, and Monteen ("The Factory Girls"). In a fantasy sequence, Frank becomes the lecherous seducer of their testimony ("Come Up to My Office"). Testimony is heard from Mary's mother ("My Child Will Forgive Me") and Minnie McKnight before the prosecution's star witness, Jim Conley, takes the stand, claiming that he helped Frank cover up the crime ("That's What He Said").

Leo is desperate, but Rosser insists he stay silent, assuring him that he has a plan. As prosecutor Hugh Dorsey whips the observers and jurors at the trial into a frenzy, Rosser is given the opportunity for his client to deliver a statement. Leo offers a heartfelt speech, pleading to be believed ("It's Hard to Speak My Heart"), but it is not enough. He is found guilty and sentenced to hang. The crowd breaks out into a jubilant cakewalk as Lucille and Leo embrace, terrified ("Summation and Cakewalk").

Act II[edit]

Leo has begun his process of appeal. The trial has been noted by the press in the north, and the reaction is strongly disapproving of the way in which it was conducted, but the African-American domestics wonder if the reaction would have been as strong if the victim had been black ("A Rumblin' and a Rollin'"). Lucille tries to help Leo with his appeal, but reveals crucial information to Craig, provoking a fight between Leo and Lucille ("Do it Alone"). Lucille then finds Governor Slaton at a party ("Pretty Music") and attempts to advocate for Leo. She accuses him of either being a fool or a coward if he accepts the outcome of the trial as is. Meanwhile, Tom Watson approaches Hugh Dorsey and tells him that he will support his bid for governor should he choose to make it.

Dorsey and Judge Roan go on a fishing trip, where they discuss the political climate and the upcoming election ("The Glory").

The governor agrees to re-open the case, and Leo and Lucille rejoice ("This is Not Over Yet"). Slaton visits the factory girls, who admit to their exaggeration, and Minnie, who claims that Dorsey intimidated her and made her sign a statement. Slaton also visits Jim Conley, who is back in jail as an accessory to the murder, who refuses to change his story despite the noticeable inconsistencies with the evidence, and along with his Chain Gang, does not give any information, much to the chagrin of Slaton ("Blues: Feel the Rain Fall").

After much consideration, he agrees to commute Frank's sentence to life in prison in Milledgeville, Georgia, a move that effectively ends his political career. The citizens of Marietta, led by Dorsey and Watson, are enraged ("Where Will You Stand When the Flood Comes?"). Leo realizes his deep love for his wife and how much he has underestimated her ("All the Wasted Time"). After Lucille departs from the prison, a party of masked men (Starnes, Ivey, Frankie Epps, and the Old Confederate Soldier) arrives and kidnaps Leo. They take him to Marietta and hang him from an oak tree ("Sh'ma").

Lucille is crushed by her loss but she takes comfort in believing that Leo is with God and free from his ordeal, as the Confederate Memorial Day Parade begins again ("Finale").

Musical numbers[edit]

Notes
  • A ^ Cut for the Donmar Warehouse production.
  • B ^ Replaced with "Hammer of Justice" in the Donmar Warehouse production.
  • C ^ Cut for the Donmar Warehouse production, replaced with "Minnie McKnight's Testimony".
  • D ^ Replaced with "The Glory" in the Donmar Warehouse production.
  • E ^ Used in Donmar Warehouse production in place of "Letter to the Governor".

Characters and original Broadway cast[edit]

Character Description Original Broadway performer
Leo Frank A Jewish man who runs the National Pencil Company in Atlanta, Georgia, and is accused of killing Mary Phagan. Brent Carver
Lucille Frank Leo Frank's young wife. Carolee Carmello
Mary Phagan A thirteen-year-old employee at the National Pencil Company who is murdered in the basement of the factory. Christy Carlson Romano
Frankie Epps Mary's friend and suitor. Kirk McDonald
Britt Craig A drunken journalist for the Atlanta Georgian. Evan Pappas
Governor John Slaton The governor of Georgia. John Hickok
Sally Slaton Governor John Slaton's wife. Anne Torsiglieri
Tom Watson The editor of the zealot newspaper, the Jeffersonian. John Leslie Wolf
Jim Conley The janitor at the National Pencil Company, and the star witness at the trial. Rufus Bonds Jr.
Newt Lee The night watchman at the National Pencil Company the night that Mary was killed. Ray Aranha
Hugh Dorsey The charismatic and ambitious prosecuting attorney. Herndon Lackey
Mrs. Phagan Mary and Lizzie's mother. Jessica Molaskey
Judge Roan The sickly judge presiding over Leo's trial. Don Chastain
Luther Z. Rosser Leo's attorney, a Southern "Good Old Boy". J.B. Adams
Detective JN Starnes Chief of the Atlanta Police Department. Peter Samuel
Officer Ivey DC Starnes' assistant. Tad Ingram
Iola Stover Mary's best friend from the factory. Brooke Sunny Moriber
Monteen Mary's other friend from the factory. Abbi Hutcherson
Essie Mary's other friend from the factory. Emily Klein
Fiddlin' John A young townsman with a fiddle. Jeff Edgerton
Young Confederate Soldier A young Confederate soldier that appears in the Prologue.
Old Confederate Soldier An older version of the young Confederate soldier, but he has now lost his leg. Don Chastain
Lizzie Phagan Mary's younger sister. Robin Skye
Nurse Judge Roan's perky nurse. Adinah Alexander
Prison Guard The guard at the Fulton Tower Prison. Randy Redd
Mr. Peavy The guard at the Milledgeville Prison. Don Stephenson
Floyd MacDaniel Owner of MacDaniel's Bar. J.B. Adams

Response[edit]

Most critics praised the show, especially the score.[5] However, the public and some critics received the show coolly. A number felt the show took too many liberties in the use of racial slurs. When the show closed, Livent had filed for bankruptcy protection (Chapter 11). Lincoln Center was the other producer solely responsible for covering the weekly running costs.[6] However, since the original Broadway production, the show has gained significant recognition and admiration, especially from those within the theater community.

Other productions[edit]

U.S. National tour[edit]

A U. S. national tour, directed by Prince, started at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta in June 2000, with Jason Robert Brown conducting at some venues.[7] It starred David Pittu as Leo, Andrea Burns as Lucille, Keith Byron Kirk as Jim Conley and Kristen Bowden as Mary Phagan. The Full Cast List was (including replacements): Randy Redd, Rick Hilsabeck, Carla Hargrove, John Paul Almon, Donald Grody, Daniel Frank Kelley, David Vosburgh, Elizabeth Brownlee, Siri Howard, Tim Salamandyk, Tim Howard, C. Mingo Long, Raissa Katona, Sandra DeNise, David Coolidge, Anne Allgood, Mimi Bessette, Jamie Sorrentini, Justin Bohon, Laura Marie Crosta, Sandra DeNise, David Dannehl, Jeff Edgerton, Jamie Johnsson, Corey Reynolds, Greg Roderick, Natasha Yvette Williams and Swings: Joe Duffy (Dance Captain) and Laura Shutter

Los Angeles Production[edit]

The Los Angeles premiere, directed by Brady Schwind, and choreographed by Imara Quinonez opened July 10, 2008 at the Neighborhood Playhouse of Palos Verdes with Craig D'Amico as Leo Frank, Emily Olson as Lucille Frank and Alissa Anderegg as Mary Phagan.[8]

Donmar Warehouse/Los Angeles Production[edit]

The first major production in the United Kingdom played at the Donmar Warehouse from September 24 to November 24, 2007.[9] It was directed by Rob Ashford and starred Lara Pulver as Lucille Frank, Bertie Carvel as Leo and Jayne Wisener as Mary Phagan.[10] Pulver was nominated for the 2008 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical and Carvel was nominated for Best Actor in a Musical. A double-CD cast recording of this production has been released by First Night Records. The recording includes new material written by Brown for the production and contains all songs and dialogue from the Donmar production. In addition, the large orchestra used in the original Broadway production was reduced by David Cullen and Brown to a nine piece ensemble consisting of: Piano 1 (Musical Director), Piano 2/Accordion, Percussion, Bass, Clarinet (Bass, A, Bb), Horn, Violin, Viola and Cello.[11]

The Donmar production transferred to the Mark Taper Forum, Los Angeles, California, in September 2009, for a run through November 15, 2009. Lara Pulver reprised her role as Lucille opposite T.R. Knight as Leo Frank. The cast also included, in alphabetical order, Brad Anderson, Michael Berresse, Will Collyer, Charlotte d’Amboise, Karole Foreman, Davis Gaines, Laura Griffith, P.J. Griffith, Curt Hansen, Deidrie Henry, Christian Hoff, Sarah Jayne Jensen, Lisa Livesay, Hayley Podschun, David St. Louis, Rose Sezniak (now Hemingway), Phoebe Strole, Josh Tower and Robert Yacko.[12]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Original Broadway production[edit]

Year Award Ceremony Category Nominee Result
1999 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Musical Won
Outstanding Book of a Musical Alfred Uhry Won
Outstanding Actor in a Musical Brent Carver Won
Outstanding Actress in a Musical Carolee Carmello Won
Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical Rufus Bonds, Jr. Nominated
Outstanding Director of a Musical Harold Prince Nominated
Outstanding Choreography Patricia Birch Nominated
Outstanding Orchestrations Don Sebesky Won
Outstanding Lyrics Jason Robert Brown Nominated
Outstanding Music Won
Outstanding Set Design Riccardo Hernandez Nominated
Outstanding Lighting Design Howell Binkley Nominated
Outstanding Sound Design Jonathan Deans Nominated
Tony Award Best Musical Nominated
Best Book of a Musical Alfred Uhry Won
Best Original Score Jason Robert Brown Won
Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical Brent Carver Nominated
Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical Carolee Carmello Nominated
Best Direction of a Musical Harold Prince Nominated
Best Choreography Patricia Birch Nominated
Best Orchestrations Don Sebesky Nominated
Best Scenic Design Riccardo Hernandez Nominated

Original London production[edit]

Year Award Ceremony Category Nominee Result
2008 Laurence Olivier Award Best New Musical Nominated
Best Actor in a Musical Bertie Carvel Nominated
Best Actress in a Musical Lara Pulver Nominated
Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical Shaun Escoffery Nominated
Best Director Rob Ashford Nominated
Best Theatre Choreographer Nominated
Best Sound Design Terry Jardine and Nick Lidster Nominated

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Anti-Defamation League information
  2. ^ New York Times, "Songwriting Challenge of Historic Proportions", Robin Pogrebin, E1, December 22, 1998
  3. ^ a b Variety, Legit Reviews, Charles Isherwood, December 21, 1998 - January 3, 1999, p85
  4. ^ Christian Science Monitor (Boston, MA), "Poignant 'Parade' probes America's heart", Iris Fanger, p. 19, December 18, 1998
  5. ^ Links to numerous reviews
  6. ^ New York Times, Jesse McKinley, interview with Bernard Gersten, 2/3/99, p. B2
  7. ^ Playbill News: Parade Will March Into GA, TN, PA, WI, CO, WA in 2000 Tour
  8. ^ Playbill News: D'Amico and Olson Are the Franks in L.A. Run of Parade, Starting July 11
  9. ^ "Parade Comes to London Autumn 2007". 22 February 2007. Retrieved 2007-06-22. 
  10. ^ London casting information officiallondontheatre.co.uk, 20 July 2007
  11. ^ London "Parade" to Release Cast Recording (Playbill, 10/24/07)
  12. ^ BWW News Desk.[1] broadwayworld.com, June 23, 2009

References[edit]

External links[edit]