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Theatre: Parade

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 racism and other issues in the post-Reconstruction American south.


Parade provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Acting for Two: Depending on how large the cast is, actors may play multiple parts, although it is somewhat traditional for the Old Confederate Soldier to double with the Judge. It's also 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.
  • The Bad Guy Wins
  • Based on a True Story
  • Bookends: "The Old Red Hills of Home"
    • The musical opens with the Young Confederate Soldier saying goodbye to his sweetheart as he goes off to war. At the end, Lucille sings the same melody as she says her last farewell to Leo.
  • Clear My Name / Clear Their Name: Leo and Lucille's motivations, respectively.
  • Crowd Song: The second part of "The Old Red Hills of Home", "There is a Fountain", "Hammer of Justice," and "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 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: Tom Watson and Hugh Dorsey, are both baritones.
  • Epic Rocking: "The Old Red Hills of Home" owns this trope.
  • Final Love Duet: "All the Wasted Time" (also the only love duet)
  • Flashback: The first part of "The Old Red Hills of Home" to the American Civil War.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Since it's based on history...
  • Good Is Not Nice: Though he is innocent, Leo Frank is not depicted as a nice person (at least at first). He hates living in the South and despises its people ("These men belong in zoos. It's like they've never joined civilization."). He also fails to appreciate his wife's love and devotion until he sees how hard she strives to have him exonerated.
  • 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
  • I Die Free: At the end, Lucille sings that Leo is "finally free".
  • 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.
  • Jury and Witness Tampering: Several witnesses testifying against Leo have been coached, coerced, or blackmailed by Amoral Attorney Hugh Dorsey.
  • Karma Houdini: Jim Conley. He rapes and murders a girl, but Leo Frank takes the fall for it and is eventually lynched. Also, Conley testifies against Frank in court. None of the Klan members who lynch Frank are ever punished either.
  • 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.
  • Malevolent Masked Men: The lynch mob.
  • Malicious Slander: Leo is a victim of this.
  • 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.
  • Miscarriage of Justice: Leo's conviction.
  • Missing White Woman Syndrome: "The local hotels wouldn't be so packed / If a little black girl had gotten attacked!"
  • Mood Whiplash: The end of "My Child Will Forgive Me".
  • Nothing Exciting Ever Happens Here: Craig feels this way before the story breaks.
  • Persecuted Intellectuals: The violently anti-Semitic people of rural Georgia are already suspicious of Leo Frank because he is Jewish, but the fact that he is one of the few men in town with a college degree doesn't help matters. Prosecutor Hugh Dorsey, milking the Simple Country Lawyer persona for all it's worth, even cites Leo's "big fancy talk" as evidence that he can't be trusted.
  • Politically Correct History: Lampshaded
  • Smug Snake: Britt Craig
  • 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 Conley 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 Flashback in which the evil version of Frank described by the coached prosecution witnesses tries to seduce underage girls.


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