A NEW MUSICAL
Music and Lyrics by Jason Robert Brown, Book by Alfred Uhry
"This is not over yet…"Strange Fruit
Now, let's toss in a twist to this scenario: What if the man were innocent? This is the premise for PARADE, a new musical about the all-too-real Leo Frank case, which involved a not-so-nice man wrongfully convicted of murder. As he fights to clear his name, he grows and learns to be a better person, and to love and respect his estranged wife, but it does him no good. When the governor realises that Leo Frank is innocent, he commutes the sentence only to have a lynch mob grab the hapless convict.
There were many reasons for the unjust conviction and lynching: Leo Frank was living in Atlanta, Georgia at the time (1913, by the way) but he was from New York. The Civil War had only been over for forty-eight years, and the scars were still not yet healed (are they now? I wonder...). He ran a factory that paid children twelve cents an hour for body-breaking-mind-numbing work. And, to top it off, he was Jewish. He represented everything Southerners at the time hated, and here an ideal of Southern innocence had met her end in his factory. It would be easy to blow the lynchers off as redneck bigots, and perhaps they were... but we must also look at it from their point of view. They were wrong in the long run, but they honestly believed that they were doing the right thing for Justice, and for their own honour.
PARADE tells the story pretty accurately, even including actual words spoken by the real-life characters. A few changes are made for dramatic effect, most notably (for me, at least) the timing of events. Mary Phagan was murdered on April 26, 1913, Leo Frank was lynched August 17, 1915. PARADE has the lynching occur some time before April of 1915, so that the show can end on the second anniversary of the child's death. Leo Frank was not in the courtroom when he was declared guilty; the judge was certain that he would be acquitted, and was afraid of mob violence (such a decision today would be grounds for a mistrial). Evidence uncovered in the governor's inquest is changed slightly, and the trial sequence is reduced to its basics for time limits. None of these changes damages the story in any real way- in fact, they make this horror story all the more dramatic- but I wanted to point them out. I'm picky that way.
I saw PARADE twice before its premature closing,
on December 12, 1998, and on December 23. Both times I left the theatre
shaking, horrified at what I'd just seen, but also moved to tears. Real
life dramas are hard enough, but stories this tragic are just shattering.
As CHICAGO was not accepted in the 1970's, I do not believe the timing
was right for PARADE right now. It took twenty years and a lamentable growth
of American cynicism to make CHICAGO mainstream; I hope it will not take
twenty years for America to realise how special PARADE truly is. I have
named this section of the website after one of the songs from the show-
This Is Not Over Yet- because my goal is to educate people about this tragedy,
and see to it that Leo Frank is never forgotten... By visiting this site,
you are helping me achieve that goal, and keeping justice from becoming an extinct species.
The True Story
Email Me! Upcoming Productions of PARADE Operating Theatre
Courtesy of The Old Red Hills Of Home
September 2 - 6, 2003
For further info, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Musical Theatre Guild
Studio City, CA
September 15 - 21, 2003
Rocky Hill Town Theatre
Rocky Hill, CT
February 13 - 29, 2004
Biloxi Little Theatre
April 9-11, 2004
For tickets, call 228-388-1189
The True Story
Upcoming Productions of PARADE
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