April 26, 1913 to April 26, 1915, with a brief flashback to April 26, 1863

the cities of Atlanta and Marietta, Georgia


Act I

It is a sunny day in late April. The Civil War is raging, and a young Confederate soldier bids a fond adieu to his sweetheart as he prepares to fight for The Old Red Hills of Home. In the blink of an eye, fifty years pass us. It is 1913, and the young soldier is now an old man who lost both his sweetheart and his leg in the war. He prepares to march in the Confederate Memorial Day Parade, and the citizens of Atlanta prepare to watch it. The scene freezes, and we are in the bedroom of a newlywed, wealthy, Jewish couple: Lucille and Leo Frank. Lucille is preparing for her Saturday, but realises to her dismay that Leo, a Yankee Cornell graduate, will spend the day working, and not picnicking with her as she'd planned. Leo explains that he wants to earn enough money for them to raise a family, but Lucille is still upset that her husband never wants to spend time with her. Leo leaves for work, and as he fights his way through the crowd, (The Dream of Atlanta) he wonders aloud, "How Can I Call This Home?" Being Jewish and educated in Brooklyn is nothing special, but here, in Atlanta, he is a rarity. Flustered and frustrated, he arrives at the National Pencil Factory, where he works as a superintendent, and settles down to go over figures.

Elsewhere in Atlanta, a thirteen-year-old girl rides a trolley to work. Mary Phagan also works at the Pencil Factory, fastening erasers to pencils for pennies an hour, and is going to collect her pay this morning before watching the Parade. A fifteen-year-old boy, Frankie Epps, who has a crush on Mary, also boards the trolley, and tries to convince the girl to go with him to The Picture Show. Mary coquetteishly refuses, but it is clear that a small romance is blossoming with the spring. Mary gets off at the factory, and goes inside to get her pay. Leo, inside, fusses over numbers and figures, while in a split scene, Lucille wonders when she and Leo will become a true couple, and find some love in their marriage. (Leo At Work/ What Am I Waiting For?) Leo is interrupted by young Mary, and he pauses to give her a week's earnings: $1.20. Wishing him a happy Memorial Day, she leaves, and Leo returns to work.

Early the next morning, two police officers arrive at the Frank house and inform Leo that he must come to the Factory immediatley. In a split scene, Newt Lee, an African-American night watchman, explains that he found something horrible in the basement of the Factory, and Leo is taken to identify the body that Newt Lee discovered. It takes Leo a moment to recognise the raped and strangled body of Mary Phagan, and his horror increases when he realises that he is a suspect in her murder. (I Am Trying To Remember) Elsewhere in the city, a drunken reporter, Britt Craig, is flung out of a bar, bemoaning the lack of anything newsworthy in Atlanta. (Big News!) As he makes himself comfortable in a rubbish can, the police arrive and tell him that they have something truly interesting he can write about. Solicitor Hugh Dorsey assures the reporters that he will uncover and prosecute the killer of Mary Phagan. In prison, Leo coldly tells Lucille that while the jailhouse is a dangerous and disgusting place, he doesn't need her help, and assures her that he will be vindicated soon.

At Mary Phagan's funeral, rumours fly about the identity of her murderer, and Frankie Epps vows to Britt Craig that he will kill the man who slaughtered his sweetheart. (There Is A Fountain/ It Don't Make Sense) A newspaper publisher, Tom Watson, also swears vengeance on the killer, and sings a haunting Lullaby to the coffin as it is lowered into the ground. The governor, Jack Slaton, informs prosecutor Hugh Dorsey that the state needs a conviction on this case, as a string of recent homicides have gone unpunished and they will look bad if they let this one slip by. Dorsey sets out to find a killer, and finally settles on Leo Frank, despite having no evidence against the man. (Somethin' Ain't Right) Meanwhile, the case is being tried in the newspapers before it reaches court, and Britt Craig's career has been made. A previously convicted African-American felon, Jim Conley, who was working as a janitor at the Factory, seems a much more likely suspect, but it was not Conley who allowed children to work in horrible conditions for pennies an hour. Politically, Leo Frank makes a much safer killer, so Dorsey, to save his own face, begins to cook up evidence against the Jew. (Real Big News) Hounded by reporters, Lucille Frank collapses from exhaustion and emotion, and when Britt Craig tries to question her on his own, she angrily tells him that "You Don't Know This Man." In the prison, as the trial date nears, Lucille tells Leo that she cannot handle being in the courtroom with him during the trial, so she will be leaving Atlanta. Leo panics at the thought of losing the one person who has kept her faith in him, and begs her to stay in Atlanta. She does not answer, but leaves him alone in the visitation room.

The trial begins. (It Is Time Now) As Hugh Dorsey makes his opening speech (Twenty Miles From Marietta) describing how the angelic Mary was slaughtered by the man who kept her in a state of virtual slavery and perpetual poverty, Leo notices that Lucille is in the courtroom, right behind his chair. Frankie Epps testifies that Mary Phagan was terrified of Leo Frank because he made advances on her (Frankie's Testimony), but Leo vehemently denies ever doing so. The condition worsens, however, when other Factory Girls testify that Leo also made advances on them, using the same words Mary said. They were clearly coached by Hugh Dorsey, and this becomes frightfully obvious when we see what the girls are describing: normally quiet, shy Leo, seen here strutting like the bastard love child of don Juan and The Big Bad Wolf, inviting the girls to "Come Up To My Office." We know it is ludicrous because we know Leo, but the citizens of Atlanta begin screaming for Leo's head. Newt Lee testifies that Leo did "look funny" at the Factory girls, (Newt Lee's Testimony) but he never gets to define "funny" or say any more, because Hugh Dorsey cuts him off. Mary's mother is next on the witness stand, and when she sees the torn and bloody clothing her daughter was wearing when she was killed, she breaks down into a simple prayer: "My Child Will Forgive Me." She finishes her prayer by explaining that, through her daughter's forgiveness, she can also forgive Leo, even if he is a Jew. The most amazing testimony, however, comes from Jim Conley, who claims that Leo would often have Factory girls in his office and that Conley would watch out for their privacy. When Mary came up to get her pay, he swears, he guarded the door while Leo had his way with her, and when she wouldn't co-operate, Leo smacked her and killed her. Together, they hid her body in the cellar and tried to frame Newt Lee. While they covered their tracks, Leo asked, "Why should I hang?" "That's What He Said," Conley swears. The spectators go wild, and Leo is lost in his worst nightmare. The only person in the room not yelling for his head is Lucille, still sitting silently behind him. When order is restored to the courtroom, Leo makes his own statement, swearing that he would never hurt a child, and that he certainly did not kill Mary Phagan. (It's Hard To Speak My Heart) His avowals are in vain, however, because as soon as the final statements are completed, the Verdict is read: twelve Christian jurors, twelve votes of "guilty." The spectators celebrate, and Leo and Lucille cling to each other desperately as the whole world goes mad around them...


Act II


Leo is condemned to death for Mary's murder, but he refuses to sit back and accept his condemnation. Working alone, he files appeals and manages to arrange delays of execution, but he is still an innocent prisoner. Britt Craig marvels at Leo's perseverance, (It Goes On And On) and thanks God for the career-making story this whole case has made. Several African-Americans note the national attention the Frank case has garnered, and complain that no one would care about the nearing execution if Leo were Black. (A Rumblin' And A Rollin')

Visiting Leo in prison, Lucille tells her husband how she is trying to help his case along, but Leo is hardly grateful. He assures her that he can handle this by himself, and Lucille snaps. She points out that he has done everything alone, and he doesn't have any other friends to help him now. She refuses to sit back and watch her husband hang, and storms out of the prison determined to save him herself. (Do It Alone)

At a ball, Governor John Slaton dances with the guests and makes polite idle chatter. (Pretty Music) Lucille arrives and corners Slaton, and, while they dance, she demands that he reopen the case and help her prove Leo's innocence. Slaton refuses, explaining that Leo was found guilty by a jury of his peers, but Lucille calls him a coward and a fool and exits angrily. Slaton is left wondering if his political life has overcome his conscience, but returns to dancing. Judge Roan, who presided over Leo's trial, writes a Letter To The Governor, also asking for mercy in the Frank case, and Slaton is convinced.

Late at night in the prison, a telephone rings. A guard answers it, and delivers the message to Leo: Lucille has called to say that "you-know-who is gonna reexamine you-know-what." Elated, Leo realises that he could never have come so far without Lucille, and vows to clear his name and become a true husband to his wife. There is light at the end of the tunnel, This Is Not Over Yet. Lucille and Governor Slaton interview the Factory girls who testified that Leo propositioned them, and the girls finally confess that they greatly exaggerated everything that Leo said or did. Newt Lee also explains that Leo did look at the girls funny, but with his large eyes, he looked at everyone funny. "He's a funny-lookin' guy," he explains. Jim Conley, also in prison for his part in the murder, refuses to change his story, but acknowledges that there are many holes in it. (Feel The Rain Fall) Slaton has finally come to understand the truth, but knows that were he to commute Leo's sentence, his political career would be ruined. His wife assures him that he must do what his conscience bids him, and she will stand by him no matter what.

When Slaton announces that he has commuted Leo's death sentence to life in prison, the crowd goes mad. Hugh Dorsey and Watson feel terribly betrayed, and convince the citizens of Atlanta to take justice into their own hands. (Where Will You Stand When The Flood Comes?) Later, in Leo's new minimum-security prison, Lucille comes to visit her husband with the picnic they never got to have on that horrible Saturday. They spread the food out on the floor and imagine themselves in a sunny meadow, marvelling at All The Wasted Time they could have spent together instead of wrapped up in their personal, petty lives. The lights fade down as they fall into each other's arms, finally happy for the first time in two years. That evening, as Lucille prepares to leave, they assure each other that, once Leo is freed, they will make the most of every minute together. Lucille goes home with a "See you Sunday," and Leo goes to sleep for the night.

That night, men storm the prison and knock out the guard. Leo is dragged from his cell without even time to put on shoes or pants. Early the next morning, the men arrive in Marietta, Mary Phagan's hometown. They inform Leo that, if he confesses to the murder, they will not hurt him, but Leo refuses to confess to a crime he did not commit, not even to save his own neck. He gives them his wedding ring as they slip the noose over his head, and asks that it be given to Lucille. He softly sings the Sh'ma, one of the holiest of Hebrew prayers, and Frankie Epps kicks the table away, dedicating Leo's murder to Mary's memory.

Confederate Memorial Day again. Another Parade goes through Atlanta, and Britt Craig comes to visit Lucille. He has Leo's wedding ring, and wants to give it to her before she leaves the city that killed her husband. Staring at the ring, Lucille realises that she cannot leave: Atlanta may not have been Leo's home, but it certainly is hers, and she will not be driven out. Just as the young soldier bid farewell to his sweetheart in the Civil War, Lucille bids farewell to Leo, and watches the Parade go by her... (Finale: The Old Red Hills Of Home)

This Is Not Over Yet...




The True Story



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