|This article's lead section may not adequately summarize key points of its contents. (September 2016)|
Broadway Playbill cover
|Music||Jason Robert Brown|
|Lyrics||Jason Robert Brown|
|Basis||Historical events in Atlanta in 1913|
2007 West End
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 premiered on Broadway in 1998 and won Tony Awards for Best Book and Best Original Score (out of nine nominations) and six Drama Desk Awards. The show has had a U.S. national tour and numerous professional and amateur productions in both the U.S. and abroad.
- 1 Historical background
- 2 History of the musical
- 3 Plot
- 4 Musical numbers
- 5 Characters
- 6 Response
- 7 Productions
- 8 Notes
- 9 References
- 10 External links
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 the Jewish Civil Rights organization, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
History of the musical
Harold Prince turned to Brown to write the score after Stephen Sondheim turned the project down. 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.
In dramatizing the story, Prince and Uhry have emphasized the evolving relationship between Leo and his wife Lucille. 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.
The show was Brown's first Broadway production. His music, according to critic Charles Isherwood, has "subtle and appealing melodies that draw on a variety of influences, from pop-rock to folk to rhythm and blues and gospel."
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 ambitious and corrupt prosecutor Hugh Dorsey (later the governor of Georgia and then a judge) and the rabid, anti-semitic publisher Tom Watson (later elected a U.S. senator).
The musical opens 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 suspects Newt Lee, the African-American night watchman who discovered the body ("Interrogation"). Throughout his interrogation, he maintains his innocence, but inadvertently directs Starnes' suspicion upon Frank, who did not answer his telephone when Lee called him to report the incident. Leo is arrested, but not charged, and Mrs. Phagan, Mary's mother, becomes 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"). Craig attends Mary's funeral, where 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") who has taken a special interest in the case. 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.
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 a reluctant 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").
Leo meets with his lawyer, Luther Z. Rosser, 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 witnessed the murder and helped Frank cover up the crime ("That's What He Said").
Leo is desperate. As prosecutor Hugh Dorsey whips the observers and jurors at the trial into a frenzy, Leo is given the opportunity 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").
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. Riots ensue, which leads to Slaton and his wife, Sally Slaton, fleeing Georgia ("Where Will You Stand When the Flood Comes?"). Leo has been transferred to a prison work-farm. Lucille visits and he 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, the Fulton Tower guard and the Old Confederate Soldier) arrives and kidnaps Leo. They take him to Marietta and demand he confess to the murder on pain of death. Leo refuses, and although Ivey is convinced of his innocence, the rest of group is determined to kill him. As his last request, Leo has a sack tied around his waist, since he is wearing only his nightshirt, and gives his wedding ring to Ivey to be given to Lucille. The group hangs him from an oak tree ("Sh'ma").
Some time later, a remorseful Britt Craig gives Leo's ring, which has been delivered to him anonymously, to Lucille. He is surprised to discover that she has no plans to leave Georgia, which is now governed by Dorsey, but she refuses to let Leo's ordeal be for nothing. Alone, she gives into her grief, but she takes comfort in believing that Leo is with God and free from his ordeal. The Confederate Memorial Day Parade begins again ("Finale").
- 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".
|Character||Description||Original Broadway performer||Original Donmar Warehouse performer||Avery Fisher Hall Concert performer||Hope Mill Theatre performer|
|Leo Frank||A Jewish man who runs the National Pencil Company in Atlanta, Georgia, and is accused of killing Mary Phagan.||Brent Carver||Bertie Carvel||Jeremy Jordan||Tom Lloyd|
|Lucille Frank||Leo Frank's young wife who becomes his greatest ally in his fight against the accusations against him after Mary Phagan's death.||Carolee Carmello||Lara Pulver||Laura Benanti||Laura Harrison|
|Mary Phagan||A thirteen-year-old employee at the National Pencil Company who is murdered in the basement of the factory.||Christy Carlson Romano||Jayne Wisener||Emerson Steele||Megan Ormiston|
|Frankie Epps||Mary's friend and suitor. He takes an active role in avenging her death, and participates in the lynching of Leo Frank at the end of the musical.||Kirk McDonald||Stuart Matthew Price||Charlie Franklin||Aidan Banyard|
|Britt Craig||A drunken journalist for the Atlanta Georgian.||Evan Pappas||Gary Milner||Andy Mientus||James Wolstenholme|
|Hugh Dorsey||The charismatic and ambitious prosecuting attorney, who views the Leo Frank case as a stepping stone to his own success.||Herndon Lackey||Mark Bonnar||John Ellison Conlee||Andy Gallo|
|Jim Conley||The janitor at the National Pencil Company, and the star witness at the trial. A charismatic and sly man who knows how to use his charm to get anyone to believe him.||Rufus Bonds Jr.||Shaun Escoffery||Joshua Henry||Matt Mills|
|Newt Lee||The night watchman at the National Pencil Company the night that Mary was killed.||Ray Aranha||Shaun Escoffery||Alvin Crawford||Matt Mills|
|Mrs. Phagan||Mary's widowed mother, a deeply religious woman.||Jessica Molaskey||Helen Anker||Katie Rose Clarke||Jennifer Harraghy|
|Lizzie Phagan*||Mary's aunt.||Robin Skye|
|Iola Stover||Mary's best friend from the factory.||Brooke Sunny Moriber||Joanna Kirkland||Caitlin Houlahan||Evie Blackstock|
|Essie||Mary's other friend from the factory.||Emily Klein||Celia Mei Rubin||Allie Trimm||Natalie Hollingworth|
|Monteen||Mary's other friend from the factory.||Abbi Hutcherson||Zoe Rainey||Ephie Aardema||Anna Berentzen|
|Luther Z. Rosser||Leo's attorney, a Southern "Good Old Boy".||J.B. Adams||Stephen Webb||John Jellison||John Mulleady|
|Judge Roan||The sickly judge presiding over Leo's trial.||Don Chastain||Steven Page||Davis Gaines||Ben Jackson|
|Tom Watson||The editor of the zealot newspaper, the Jeffersonian.||John Leslie Wolfe||Norman Bowman||Ramin Karimloo||Nathan Summers|
|Governor John Slaton||The governor of Georgia.||John Hickok||Gary Milner||Alan Campbell||James Wolstenholme|
|Sally Slaton||Governor John Slaton's wife.||Anne Torsiglieri||Helen Anker||Rachel de Benedet||Jennifer Harraghy|
|Officer Ivey||DC Starnes' assistant.||Tad Ingram||Stephen Webb||John Mulleady|
|Detective JN Starnes||Chief of the Atlanta Police Department.||Peter Samuel||Norman Bowman||Eric Anderson||Nathan Summers|
|Mr. Peavy||The guard at the Milledgeville Prison.||Don Stephenson||Gary Milner||John Jellison||James Wolstenholme|
|Nurse*||Nurse and aide to Judge Roan||Adinah Alexander|
|Floyd MacDaniel*||Owner of MacDaniel's Bar.||J.B. Adams|
|Riley||Governor Slaton’s African-American servant chauffeur||J.C. Montgomery||Alvin Crawford||Matt Mills|
|Angela||Governor Slaton’s African-American servant||Angela Lockett||Malinda Parris||Andrea Jones-Sojola||Shekinah McFarlane|
|Fiddlin' John*||A young townsman with a fiddle.||Jeff Edgerton||Charlie Franklin|
|Young Confederate Soldier||A young Confederate soldier that appears in the Prologue.||Jeff Edgerton||Stuart Matthew Price||Charlie Franklin||Aidan Banyard|
|Old Confederate Soldier||An older version of the young Confederate soldier, but he has now lost his leg.||Don Chastain||Steven Page||Davis Gaines||Ben Jackson|
|Prison Guard||The guard at the Fulton Tower Prison.||Randy Redd||Eric Leviton||Aidan Banyard|
*Characters removed in Donmar rewrite
Most critics praised the show, especially the score. 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. However, since the original Broadway production, the show has gained significant recognition and admiration, especially from those within the theater community.
The musical premiered on Broadway at the Vivian Beaumont Theater on December 17, 1998 and closed February 28, 1999, after 39 previews and 84 regular performances. Directed by Harold Prince, it starred Brent Carver as Leo Frank, Carolee Carmello as Lucille Frank, and Christy Carlson Romano as Mary Phagan.
U.S. National tour
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. 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
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.
Donmar Warehouse/Los Angeles
The first major production in the United Kingdom played at the Donmar Warehouse from September 24 to November 24, 2007. It was directed by Rob Ashford and starred Lara Pulver as Lucille Frank, Bertie Carvel as Leo and Jayne Wisener as Mary Phagan. 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.
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.
Avery Fisher Hall Concert
On February 16, 2015, a concert production of Parade was staged at Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center by Manhattan Concert Productions, directed by Gary Griffin and conducted by composer Jason Robert Brown. Jeremy Jordan and Laura Benanti starred as Leo and Lucille Frank, with Ramin Karimloo as Tom Watson, Joshua Henry as Jim Conley, Andy Mientus as Britt Craig, Emerson Steele as Mary Phagan, Katie Rose Clarke as Mrs. Phagan, John Ellison Conlee as Hugh Dorsey, Davis Gaines as Judge Roan/Old Soldier and Alan Campbell as Governor Slaton.
Hope Mill Theatre, Manchester
On 13th May, 2016, the Manchester premiere of "Parade" opened, directed by James Baker, with musical direction from Tom Chester and choreography by William Whelton. The production was originally slated to close on Sunday 5th June but was extended due to popular demand. Tom Lloyd and Laura Harrison starred as Leo and Lucille Frank. The cast also included, Jennifer Harraghy, Nathan Summers, Ben Jackson, Matt Mills, Shekinah McFarlane, Andrew Gallo, James Wolstenholme, Aidan Banyard, John Mulleady, Megan Ormiston, Evie Blackstock, Anna Berentzen and Natalie Hollingworth. The production was critically acclaimed by both audiences and critics alike with Mark Shenton naming the production as one of his theatre picks of the week stating; '...the version now running in a brilliant new venue in Manchester (only until June 11) may be the best I've seen yet. I was moved to ecstatic tears by the overwhelming score and haunting story to yet again. But it is staged with drive and drama by James Baker, has a brilliant live 10-strong band under the musical direction of Tom Chester, a beautiful set by Victoria Hinton that superbly integrates the theatre itself, and superb lighting by Aaron J Dootson. And then there's the absolutely thrilling voices of the ensemble cast, led by shatteringly beautiful performances of Tom Lloyd and Laura Harrison as Leo and Lucille Frank as a Jewish couple torn apart by his false conviction for murder.'  
Original Broadway production
Original London production
|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|
- Anti-Defamation League information
- New York Times, "Songwriting Challenge of Historic Proportions", Robin Pogrebin, E1, December 22, 1998
- Variety, Legit Reviews, Charles Isherwood, December 21, 1998 - January 3, 1999, p85
- Christian Science Monitor (Boston, MA), "Poignant 'Parade' probes America's heart", Iris Fanger, p. 19, December 18, 1998
- Links to numerous reviews
- New York Times, Jesse McKinley, interview with Bernard Gersten, 2/3/99, p. B2
- Jones, Kenneth. Playbill News: Parade Will March Into GA, TN, PA, WI, CO, WA in 2000 Tour" Playbill, November 10, 1999
- Jones, Kenneth and Hetrick, Adam. "D'Amico and Olson Are the Franks in L.A. Run of 'Parade', Starting July 11" Playbill, May 22, 2008
- "Parade Comes to London Autumn 2007". 22 February 2007. Retrieved 2007-06-22.
- London casting information officiallondontheatre.co.uk, 20 July 2007
- London "Parade" to Release Cast Recording (Playbill, 10/24/07)
- BWW News Desk. broadwayworld.com, June 23, 2009
- "Full Cast Revealed For 'Parade' in Concert Starring Jeremy Jordan and Laura Benanti" Playbill, 2015
-  Mark Shenton Theatre Picks 2016
-  Review, Jonathan Baz 2016
- Extensive website about the show
- Cast and other information from the Geocities Jason Robert Brown website
- All the Wasted Time - Parade
- Parade at the Music Theatre International website
- Profile of the show at the NODA website indicating which characters sing which numbers