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"It's like a foreign land

I didn't understand

Being southern's not just being in the south"
—Leo, "How Can I Call This Home"

Parade is a musical with music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown (his Broadway debut). It opened in 1998, and received nine Tony award nominations the following year, including best musical, winning two (Best Book and Best Original Score). Critics gave it mixed reviews.

The show, Based on a True Story and staying mostly true to history, opens on Confederate Memorial Day and proceeds to follow Leo Frank, a Jewish businessman from Brooklyn, living in Atlanta, Georgia with his wife Luicille in 1913. When a young girl named Mary Phagan is found murdered in the basement of the factory Leo manages, Leo finds himself fighting to prove he is not a murderer, grudgingly accepting his wife's help. Proving Leo innocent is made difficult by the relentless work of prosecutor Hugh Dorsey, determined to convict Leo on flimsy evidence with the testimony of Jim Conley. Furthermore, public opinion against Leo is stirred up by newspapermen Britt Craig and Tom Watson. And meanwhile, Mary's friend Frankie Epps vows revenge on her murderer.

The show examines the relationship between Leo and Lucille as well as racsim and other issues in the post-Reconstruction American south.


Includes Examples of:

  • Acting for Two: Depending on how large the cast is, actors may play multiple parts. It's common for the actor playing the Young Confederate Soldier to double as Frankie Epps.
  • Angry Mob Song: "Where Will You Stand When the Flood Comes," "Hammer of Justice," and "People of Atlanta" in the original version.
  • Anti-Villain: Frankie, who only takes part in Leo's lynching because he honestly believes Leo is guilty.
  • Based on a True Story
  • Book Ends: "The Old Red Hills of Home"
  • Crowd Song: the second part of "The Old Red Hills of Home", "There is a Fountain", "Where Will You Stand When the Flood Comes"
  • Cut Song: "Big News," "People of Atlanta," and "Letter to the Governor" from the London production and subsequent productions.
  • Dark Reprise: The "Finale" number wraps up with a reprise of "The Old Red Hills of Home". Interestingly handled, in that the scoring does not change from the soaring, inspiring theme of the opening, but the meaning is completely different, as the people singing are no longer young Confederate soldiers but members of the revived Ku Klux Klan. The effect is quite chilling.
    • In the revised and current version, the orchestra cuts out when the chorus comes in.
  • Downer Ending
  • The Eleven O'Clock Number: "All the Wasted Time".
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Most of the many male roles are tenors. Tom Watson and Hugh Dorsey, are the only major baritones apart from the old black janitor and the old judge.
  • Epic Song: "The Old Red Hills of Home" owns this trope.
  • Final Love Duet: "All the Wasted Time" (also the only love duet)
  • Flash Back: The first part of "The Old Red Hills of Home" to the American Civil War.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Since it's based on history...
  • Grief Song: "It Don't Make Sense", the number played during Mary's funeral.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: Leo
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: Dorsey and Frankie in regards to Leo's lynching
  • Intrepid Reporter: Britt Craig
  • "I Want" Song: "How Can I Call This Home?" for Leo, "What Am I Waiting For" for Lucille, and more subtly "Big News" for Craig.
  • Karma Houdini: Jim Conley
  • Large Ham: Herndon Lackey as prosecutor Hugh Dorsey:

 Dorsey: "There will be but one verdict in this trial: Guilty! ... Guilty ... GUILTY!!"

  • Last-Minute Reprieve: Played straight when Governor Slaton commutes Leo's death sentence to life in prison; subverted in that it didn't matter in the end, Leo was lynched.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Jim Conley, as clearly displayed in "That's What He Said". To elaborate, Jim Conley is the real murderer, and he's testifying against Frank, giving a graphic testimony about the event, in a manner that will get himself in jail for being an accessory to murder. Also, historically, Conley used Obfuscating Stupidity, hiding from others that he was capable of reading and writing.
  • Massive Multiplayer Ensemble Number: "Real Big News", "Where Will You Stand When the Flood Comes?"
  • Meaningful Funeral: Mary's. Not only does it provide a forum for Frankie to vow revenge, but the number effectively reminds the audience the murder was a terribly sad event in the first place.
  • Mood Whiplash: The end of "My Child Will Forgive Me"
  • Nothing Exciting Ever Happens Here: Craig feels this way before the story breaks
  • Politically-Correct History: Lampshaded
  • Smug Snake: Britt Craig
  • Tear Jerker: "All the Wasted Time"; "Finale"
  • Tenor Boy: Though most of the cast are tenors, this is definitely Mary's friend Frankie Epps.
  • Villain Song: Tons, but collectively "Where Will You Stand When the Flood Comes?"
    • "That's What He Said" for Jim Conely is also important.
    • "Something Ain't Right" for Hugh Dorsey and "Hammer of Justice" for Tom Watson.
    • Subverted by "Come Up To My Office", an alleged Flash Back in which the evil version of Frank described by the coached prosecution witnesses tries to seduce underage girls.
  • Vindicated by History: Leo Frank
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