This is about the stage musical. For the revue, see Parade (revue).



Parade is a musical based on the true story of Leo Frank.



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. As the Parade begins, 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. 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. 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. 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. 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, 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. 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.

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. Frankie Epps swears revenge on Mary's killer, as does Tom Watson, a writer for The Jeffersonian, an extremist right-wing newspaper who has taken a special interest in the case.

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. Craig exalts in his opportunity to cover a "real" story and begins an effective campaign vilifying Leo Frank.

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. 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 and Hugh Dorsey begins the case for the prosecution. 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. In a fantasy sequence, Frank becomes the lecherous seducer of their testimony. Testimony is heard from Mary's mother 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.

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, 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.

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. Lucille tries to help Leo with his appeal, but reveals crucial information to Craig, provoking a fight between Leo and Lucille. Lucille then finds Governor Slaton at a party 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 governor agrees to re-open the case, and Leo and Lucille rejoice. 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.

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. Leo realizes his deep love for his wife and how much he has underestimated her. After Lucille departs from the prison, a party of masked men (including Starnes, Ivey, Frankie Epps, 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 the crowd is determined to kill him. As his last request, Leo is given a pair of pants, since he is wearing only his nightshirt, and gives his wedding ring to Ivey to be given to Lucille. The crowd hang him from an oak tree.

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 Atlanta, 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.

Musical numbersEdit

Act I

  • Prologue: "The Old Red Hills of Home" – Young Soldier, Old Soldier, Ensemble
  • Anthem: "The Dream of Atlanta" – Townspeople
  • "How Can I Call This Home?" – Leo Frank and Townspeople
  • "The Picture Show" – Mary Phagan and Frankie Epps
  • "Leo At Work" / "What Am I Waiting For?" – Leo Frank and Lucille Frank
  • "Interrogation: "I Am Trying to Remember..." – Newt Lee, Leo Frank, Detective Starnes, Officer Ivey, Mrs. Phagan, Lizzie Phagan and Young Policeman
  • "Big News!" – Britt Craig
  • "Funeral": "There is a Fountain/It Don't Make Sense" – Frankie Epps, Britt Craig, Iola Stover, Essie, Monteen, Prison Guard, Lizzie Phagan and Townspeople
  • "Watson's Lullaby" – Tom Watson
  • "Somethin' Ain't Right" – Hugh Dorsey, Detective Starnes and Officer Ivey
  • "Real Big News" – Britt Craig and Townspeople
  • "You Don't Know This Man" – Lucille Frank
  • The Trial (Finale Act I):
    • Pt. I: "It Is Time Now" – Fiddling John, Tom Watson and Townspeople
    • Pt. II: "Twenty Miles From Marietta" – Hugh Dorsey
    • Pt. III: "Frankie's Testimony" – Frankie Epps and Mary Phagan
    • Pt. IV: "Factory Girls / Come Up to My Office" – Iola Stover, Essie, Monteen and Leo Frank
    • Pt. V: Newt Lee's Testimony" – Newt Lee
    • Pt. VI: "My Child Will Forgive Me" – Mrs. Phagan
    • "Pt. VII: That's What He Said" – Jim Conley, Townspeople, Randy, Fiddling John and Lizzie Phagan
    • Pt. VIII: "Leo's Statement: It's Hard to Speak My Heart" – Leo Frank
    • Pt. IX: "Closing Statements & Verdict" – Hugh Dorsey, Judge Roan, Jury Foreman, Jurors and Townspeople
Act II
  • "It Goes On and On" - Britt Craig
  • "Rumblin' and a Rollin'" – Riley, Angela, Jim Conley and Newt Lee
  • "Do It Alone" – Lucille Frank
  • "Pretty Music" – Governor John Slaton
  • "Letter to the Governor" – Nurse and Judge Roan
  • "This Is Not Over Yet" – Leo Frank, Lucille Frank and Prison Guard
  • "Blues: Feel the Rain Fall" – Jim Conley, Chain Gang, Governor John Slaton and Chain Gang Guard
  • "Where Will You Stand When the Flood Comes?" – Tom Watson, Hugh Dorsey, Mrs. Phagan, Britt Craig and Townspeople
  • "All the Wasted Time" – Leo Frank and Lucille Frank
  • "Sh'ma" – Leo Frank
  • "Finale": "The Old Red Hills of Home" – Lucille Frank, Leo Frank, Frankie Epps, Mary Phagan and Full Company

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