Book by Alfred Uhry
Music and Lyrics by Jason Robert Brown
Originally Directed and Co-Conceived by Harold Prince

Illustration by James McMullan

April 11 - 13 at 8 PM
April 14 at 2 PM
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sound bites | program | designs | photographs

Background Information

Leo Frank
Leo Frank was born April 17, 1884 in Cuero, Texas to Rudolph and Rae Frank. Within a few months, the family moved to Brooklyn, where Leo grew up. He graduated from Cornell University in 1906, earning a degree in mechanical engineering. In December of 1907, Frank went to Europe for a nine-month apprenticeship in pencil manufacturing. In August of 1908 he moved to Atlanta to assume the supervision of the National Pencil Factory. Two years later, in October 1910, Frank married Lucille Selig of Atlanta. The couple lived with Lucille's parents. By the year 1913 the Jewish community in Atlanta was the largest in the South; Leo Frank was serving as president of the Atlanta chapter of B'nai B'rith, while maintaining his position as supervisor of the National Pencil Factory. At the timeof Mary Phagan's murder, he was twenty-nine years old and had supervised the factory for almost five years.

Mary Phagan
Mary Phagan was born on June 1, 1900 to John and Frances Phagan in Marietta, Ga. Her father died when she was young; her mother eventually re-married to J.W. Coleman. They resided briefly in Alabama before moving back to Marietta. Mary Phagan was employed by the National Pencil Factory to operate a machine which placed metal tips on pencils. Mary had been temporarily laid off in April of 1913, because a shipment of metal to make the tips was late in arriving. She was due $1.20 in wages, which she went to collect on Confederate Memorial Day, April 26, 1913.

-- from the The Leo Frank Case - information compiled by Charles Pou of the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, The University of Georgia [see link below]

Links on the Leo Frank Case
Brandeis Universiy Library Special Collections department holds correspondence from Leo Frank and his wife, Lucille Frank: correspondence to and from Governor Slaton, Frank's lawyer Luther Z. Rosser and others; as well as miscellaneous articles, pamphlets and legal documents.

The Leo Frank Case - information compiled by Charles Pou of the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, The University of Georgia

The Leo Frank Lynchers - an identification of those involved in the lynching by Stephen Goldfard, Ph. D.

The Anti-Defamation League was formed in part due to the Leo Frank Trial

Without Sanctuary - a harrowing look at the photographs and postcards made of lynchings in America. Included in the collection are several lynching postcards of Leo Frank

From our Newsletter
Innocence Lost - The Murder of Mary Phagan and Conviction of Leo Frank
The 1913 Confederate Memorial Day in Marietta, Georgia, marks the beginning of a story that still seems stranger than fiction today. On that day, 14-year-old Mary Phagan went to the pencil factory where she worked to collect $1.20 in back wages and was never seen alive again. Her body was discovered on a coal pile in the basement of the factory the next day. She was the 16th unsolved murder victim in Atlanta that year.

The ensuing investigation into Mary Phagan's murder was fueled more by emotion than fact. The investigation culminated in the arrest of Phagan's employer, Leo Frank, a Brooklyn Jew who had moved to Georgia to run the factory. The evidence collected in the case actually implicated another man, the pencil factory's janitor, Jim Conley, who was arrested after being found in the factory rinsing out a shirt soaked in blood. Conley was a black man whose record bore seven arrests in eight years. He was also guilty of this crime. Conley's girlfriend, as well as a former cell mate, made it known that Conley had confessed to them that he had killed Mary Phagan. Additionally, Alonzo Mann, a 13-year-old employee of the factory at that time, reported in 1982 that he saw Conley carrying Phagan's body at the factory on the day she was murdered. Conley apparently threatened the young Mann with death if he ever reported what he saw. Mann's mother advised him to keep silent, which he did for almost 70 years. Unbelievably, Jim Conley would never be prosecuted in this case. Instead, he became the prosecution's lead witness against Frank. It was a mysterious turn of events only possible in a highly-charged case like this one.

After a sensationalized trial, Leo Frank was found guilty and sentenced to be hanged. Frank's conviction was based on race and hatred. The Southern jury resented Frank because he was both a Jew and a representative of the northern urban industrialists who were so hated in the post-Civil War South. Politics and the media also played a major role in Frank's conviction. The newspapers in Atlanta, which had grown weary in the reconstructionist years, once again had a great story to tell. Like the many other "crimes of the century" the papers followed every accusation, twist and turn of the trial. "The Atlanta Constitution" provided rewards, misquoted primary sources, and buried retractions. The paper also served as a pulpit for the prosecutor in this case, Hugh Dorsey, who reaped great political rewards for his work convicting Frank. Dorsey emerged as one of the most influential Georgians of his day, serving as the governor of Georgia for five years. Additionally, Tom Watson, the infamous Georgia politician and publisher, also reaped great political rewards from the trial. His articles were colored by hatred and were blatantly anti-Semitic in the end.

Meanwhile, at the urging of Frank's wife, Governor John Slaton commuted Frank's sentence to life imprisonment, but on August 16, 1915, a caravan of eight vehicles bearing 25 armed men arrived at the Georgia State Prison. There, they cut the telephone lines, surprised the guards, and entered the barrack of Leo Frank. The men, who called themselves the Knights of Mary Phagan, took Frank from his cell and hanged him near Mary Phagan's girlhood home. The men transported Frank from the prison to the site of the lynching with absolutely no resistance and no one was indicted in the crime. Many people believe Watson's publications fueled the fire for Frank's lynching by giving the Knights of Mary Phagan, in print, the reasoning and justification for their prejudices.

"Parade" tells this fascinating story of the old South.

Leo Frank's story is told in two parts. While the trial remains pivotal, we are introduced to Leo Frank through the eyes of his wife, Lucille. As she single-handedly convinces the governor to reexamine the case, we see Frank as a decent and honest man, incapable of such a crime and worthy of his freedom. The powerful script is backed by an impressive score that is flavored with blues, gospel, and a variety of other forms including classic hymns and marches.

"Parade" is dramatized by Alfred Uhry, best known for his other Southern plays (Pulitzer Prize-winning "Driving Miss Daisy" and the Tony Award-winning "The Last Night at Ballyhoo"). Uhry, who grew up in Atlanta and knows first-hand of the aftereffects of the Frank case, was able to bring his own experience to the project. His personal connections involved his great-uncle, who was Frank's employer, two cousins who served on Frank's defense team, and his grandmother, a close friend of Lucille Frank. Uhry has written of his own conflicting emotions as a Southern Jew, acknowledging that "what happened to Leo Frank would surely have happened to me if I had been there in his place."

In bringing the show to Broadway, Uhry teamed up with legendary director Harold Prince (who has won over 20 Tony Awards in his nearly 50 year career) and newcomer lyricist-composer Jason Robert Brown. Brown's first musical, "Songs for a New World", was directed by Harold Prince's daughter, Daisy. "Parade" won two 1999 Tony Awards: Best Book and Best Original Musical Score. "Parade" also won six 1999 Drama Desk Awards, including Outstanding Musical, Outstanding Book, and Best Music, and the 1998-1999 New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Musical.

Such a fantastic, true story chronicling one man's sad fate combined with a creative team of Uhry and Brown's magnitude make "Parade" a show you won't want to miss. Come see our fabulous musical theatre department as they dramatize this heart-wrenching tale and awe you with the beauty of Brown's score and Uhry's book.

Press Release

The tragic, true story of the trial and lynching of a man wrongly accused of murder is brought to emotional and theatrical life by acclaimed playwright Alfred Uhry ("Driving Miss Daisy") and Jason Robert Brown, one of Broadway's most promising young composers ("Songs For A New World").

In 1913, Leo Frank, a Brooklyn-born Jew living in Georgia, is put on trial for the murder of 13-year-old Mary Phagan, a factory worker under his employ. Already guilty in the eyes of everyone around him, a sensationalist publisher and a janitor's false testimony seal Leo's fate. His only defenders are a governor with a conscience, and, eventually, his assimilated Southern wife who finds the strength and love to become his greatest champion.

Daring, innovative and bold, "Parade" won well-earned Tony Awards for Best Book and Best Score in 2000. Its subject matter offers a moral lesson about the dangers of prejudice and ignorance that should not be forgotten.

"Southern extended families are prone to telling stories and so are Jewish ones. Mine was both, so I got a double dose. I grew up hearing about the quirks of distant relatives, in-laws, and a whole network of people I didn't know. They all came with stories attached. But nobody mentioned Leo Frank. Some of the family even walked out of the room if the name came up. I found this confusing, because I knew that my Great Uncle Sig had been his employer, and Lucille Frank was my grandmother's friend. Due to this hush-hush policy, I developed a fascination for the case, which has lasted all these years and which led to the idea for Parade."

Sound Bites
Click below to listen to sound bites from Parade. All sound bites are from the original Broadway Cast Recording on RCA Victor.

"Old Red Hills of Home" - Jeff Edgerton (Young Soldier)

"Leo at Work/What Am I Waiting For?" - Brent Carver (Leo Frank) and Carolee Carmello (Lucille Frank)

"A Rumblin' and a Rollin'" - J.C. Montgomery and Angela Lockett

"All the Wasted Time" - Brent Carver (Leo Frank) and Carolee Carmello (Lucille Frank)

Click here to view the Parade program as a PDF file

Production Designs
Costume Designs by George Bacon

Leo Frank Lucille Frank Mary Phagan

Jim Conley Freddie Epps Brit Craig

Governor Slaton Sally Slaton

Scenic Design by Vincent Mountain

Atlanta Cityscape The Oak Tree

Production Photographs

Click here to see the Parade performance photos as a slide show!
(You will need Javascript enabled on your computer to view these photos. The photos are also shown below)

Techincal Rehearsal Photos

"Gosh this show is big!"
Director Brent Wagner
"Do I need to come down there?"
Stage Manager Kelly Irwin

"Whose idea was that light cue?"
Lighting Designer Mark Allen Berg and his assistant Joel Silver
"Yep, the show is big. Not my fault."
Scenic Designer Vincent Mountain