PARADE is upon us – Invited Dress Rehearsal at Ford’s Theatre

A devastating, moving, radiant production is upon us, and what a collaboration this is; what an opportunity we’ve been given; to participate as partners with the broad-shouldered producers at Ford’s Theatre on the gigantic, yet intimate modern historical musical, PARADE.  So much to say about it, as we prepare for first preview audiences.  But tonight saw insiders — and all the UM/UC students taking in the dress rehearsal.  Below, read their responses in the Comments section!

26 thoughts on “PARADE is upon us – Invited Dress Rehearsal at Ford’s Theatre

  1. Leo’s unjust lynching was imminent when the executioners wearing brown sacks awoke him. During the last suspenseful moments left in Leo’s life, I couldn’t stop thinking about how this scene would play out. Of course, I knew he would be hanged, but I wondered: when during his execution would the blackout occur? To my surprise, darkness didn’t take over the stage when the masked townsman tightened the noose, but the stage instead went black when the lynching rope levitated him from the ground up to the balcony.

    In spite of this surprise, two other works, Arthur Miller’s play, “The Crucible,” and the film “The Life of David Gale”, both which pan out very similar plots and themes, prepared me for series of unfortunate events of Leo’s life in “Parade”. The themes: blame, blackmail, and pride appear in all three.

    Young Abigail accuses John Proctor and many other innocent townspeople in Salem, MA of witchcraft. Why does she do this? She wants to preserve her innocence, especially since she is the daughter of the new priest in town. Spoiler Alert: Ironically, Dr. Gale brings his lawsuit upon himself in order to prove that capital punishment has its faults and many innocent people die because of it. As regards the Salem witch trials, others in the town, just like the factory workers, wrongfully blame the innocent. They even resort to blackmail. A man is pressed to death because his neighbor accused him witchcraft—he successfully extorted his land. Likewise, Dorsey blackmails the technically “escaped convict” to make him lie before the court. Despite the characters’ trials, they died because they refused to swallow their pride. Pious John Proctor would never admit to a sacrilege like witchcraft and neither would any of the others. He is so true to his faith and honesty that he even admits to the truthfully alleged lechery, but he won’t concede to the lies about his faithfulness to God. Dr. Gale wouldn’t allow for the state of Texas make him confess something he never did, even though in this case, sufficient evidence was there. And Leo, a “decent man,” wouldn’t lie about the nefarious murder of that young girl. But, “someone’s gotta pay!”

    All of these victims were wrongfully blamed, but they were martyred for their unwillingness lie—the only way to save themselves. I was horrified to learn that another man was hanged in Georgia almost 100 years after Leo’s unfair trial. So many works have tried to relay a message against this; nevertheless, the childhood game of “Who stole the cookies from the cookie jar?” in real life still perpetuates these unjustifiable executions.

  2. Coming into Parade, I was slightly uneasy on what it would bring to the table. I was obviously familiar with the story after having to read The Lynching of Leo Frank before the performance, but I did not quite understand what themes Parade would give me that I could not already detract from the story myself. I understand the ethical arguments about the death penalty, and I see the connection to Troy Davis, but am I seeing that as the main message just because of the events surrounding the play, and not just the play itself? I pose this question to anyone who wants to respond, but for now I want to focus on another part of the play that I found interesting…
    The main theme in the play, that I found, was the conflict of identities. There was gender identity conflict (Leo feeling responsibility to pay the bills while in jail, Leo’s wife being underestimated in her ability to help Leo), racial identity conflict (dialogue between Leo’s housekeeper and the convict), and “national”, or in this case, regional identity (Georgia vs. Manhattan, North vs. South), to name several. One theme that I found particularly powerful utilized the song, “The Old Hills of Georgia”. This is not to say that the other themes were not important, but I feel that the sheer dominance of this theme in terms of time utilized showed its importance.
    One example that stuck with me from the play was near the show’s end, when a large majority of the cast was on stage singing “The Old Hills of Georgia”. Leo’s wife was dressed in all black, because of the plot point of Leo’s lynching, but also in contrast to the other characters who are wearing bright colors. What shows the identity conflict in this situation was that she was noticeably quiet and was looking at the other members of the cast on stage with contempt. This part came, mind you, after she declared that she was staying in town because she was a “Georgia Girl”. Now there was a perfect symbolic visualization of identity conflict if I have ever seen one! Overall, I thought Parade was a very developed play and skillfully acted. I felt like I gained much from the experience, and I am eager to hear what my peers thought about it as well.

  3. Parade is a powerful production by its own virtue. The score, choreography, and acting all moved me profoundly. The real power of the play, however, was lent by the events of this past week in Georgia. The miscarriage of justice that was carried out on stage, while painful for the audience, was played out behind a historical frame, distancing the audience from the events by almost a century. Yet the events of this week brought the audience on stage, into the courtroom, and made us feel complicit in the crimes perpetrated.

    Despite those events, the play still shook us to our core. The dichotomies of north and south, good and bad, christian and unchristian, truth and hypocrisy are played out on stage and deeply touch the audience not just through the moving events, but also through music. The unique power of music evolves what would be a play into a musical. When we think musical we think happy expression, dancing and singing. The content of this musical, however, deals with a miscarriage of justice and as such it must empower the content and make it reach out, across the century, into the hearts of the audience and make it timeless. The play achieves this and more. A perfect example of this is the scene during the testimony of one of the girls at the factory. The music and the dancing transform Mr. Franks from his usual conservative self into a sex driven hedonist and convince the audience for almost a moment that perhaps Mr. Franks is indeed like that.

    This is the power of a musical, and combined with the events of this past week, its power has magnified and shaken us to our core. No other medium could move us in any other way.

  4. In retrospect, Parade offered unforgettable moments in the tale of Leo Frank because it was a musical. The emotions were heightened by the rise and fall of the soundtrack, the seamless choreographed sequences allowed the audience to be informed as well as entertained, and of course it was the singing that wrapped everything together. In my opinion, the accurate recanting of a story so powerful would have less of an appeal if not partnered with music. Almost every character had a story to tell whether they were speaking at the time or not, and I found it absolutely stunning how well the actors were able to convey tidbits of information by the slightest body movements. I’m a sucker for details, so when the spotlight remained on a specific character, my ears were listening to him/her but my eyes always wondered off to those in the background – and I was never let down. Specifically, the mother of the deceased teenage girl never broke character, or Leo’s servant who never stopped asking party guests if they’d like more wine even if she couldn’t be seen or heard, were slight elements that made me even more invested in the show.

    I was also at wit’s end when Frank was so close to freedom – the production did an excellent job of creating drama where drama was needed. When Frank and Lucille were running back and forth in their best efforts to fight for his freedom, it was believable. Again, I attribute this to the fact that the production gets away with fast-paced scene changes without confusion because it is a musical; the music allowed me to attribute songs and tempos to specific characters and scenes.

    By far, my favorite scene was the one in which the African American characters gathered amongst themselves. They surprised me by being so socially aware, and not depicted as the “blumbering help” I’ve seen in other productions.

    “‘Cause a white man gonna get hung, you see.
    There’s a black man swingin’ in ev’ry tree
    But they don’t never pay attention!”

    The injustice against African Americans during this time was grandscale, and I enjoyed how the play acknowledged this fact, giving the black characters motive and a sense of purpose during the production. In the end, Leo’s inability to lie even in the face of a pardon by his kidnappers forced them to see the errors of their ways; they offered to let him go (all he had to do was admit to killing the girl), Frank wouldn’t give them the satisfaction of tarnishing his name – because that “wasn’t in God’s plan” for him. The play’s ending highlighted Frank’s road as all the more somber, making the ramifications of racism all the more relevant to recent events in our nation.

    • I think you bring up a very interesting point about the effectiveness of this play as a musical, James. I really did not give the selection of this play as a musical much thought before reading your blog post. I generally enjoy viewing musicals more than I do attending plays. I think the combination of the song, dance, and acting allow the audience members to connect with the play and better feel the emotions exhibited by the actors. I believe this play tells an amazing story of a Jewish man’s experience in Georgia in 1915 and would be a powerful one to share with or without the singing and dancing. Yet, for me, the music and dance heightened the feelings I had throughout the play. One point of criticism: I found many of the songs to sound too similar. The character of Newt Lee offered the only song that set itself apart from the others . To me, I think PARADE would have benefited from more musical variation to even better draw the passion of the actors.

  5. I immensely enjoyed the musical production of Parade. It was entertaining, colorful, dramatic, catchy, heartwarming, sad, and depressing all at the same time. From the first song I felt engrossed in the characters, I cared about them and I found myself “rooting” for them till the end.

    One major theme that stood out the strongest to me was how people, in our imperfections, believe we have the right to judge others—ultimately changing the course of ones life, and even history. We are a race that strives to be liked and wanted in society and without taking the time to step back and evaluate the situation we automatically join the crowd, its just so much easier, right?

    One scene in particular that really embodied the theme of “human judgment” was when people were testifying against Frank in court. As each child testifies against him you begin hearing a “different side” to Frank that hasn’t been portrayed in the play. In a minute Frank goes from a timid Yankee, to a perverted sweat-shop owner. As an audience member, I didn’t believe the children at first. I thought, how could Frank be anything but innocent? As the scene plays out and the lights go red, the audience is introduced to a “new” Frank character that is a perverted, sneaky, and guilty. This depiction instantly makes me question who this Frank guy really is? Is this change of personality who he actually is, or is it in my head? I will admit that I was confident Frank was innocent in the beginning but seeing that depiction of him instantly made me question my gut instinct. As an audience member I found myself rooting against Frank during the court scene, because after all the children must be right!

    As the play carries on and the evidence against Frank is revoked, I felt guilty that I had even questioned my gut. So now, in a course of two hours, I have rooted for Frank, against Frank, and then for him again. The musical is a wonderful example how people can be easily persuaded and make irrational decisions about people without taking the time to think about the situation in front of them. This situation doesn’t just happen in stories, it happens in everyday life to everyday people. As humans we need to take it on ourselves to think independently, not follow the crowd, and question our “right” to judge the innocent and the guilty.

  6. I have seen a few musicals in my lifetime, including “Chicago,” “Wicked,” and “Little Shop of Horrors.” These are all excellent plays with great casts, set design, lighting, writing, and more. I enjoyed these performances because I am such a sucker for catchy songs and good moves—don’t tell me “Defy Gravity” has never gotten stuck in your head! Of course, “Parade” is not your average musical. I went into “Parade” with limited knowledge of the play’s synopsis and conclusion. As you can imagine, the play came to me as quite a surprise: a play about the lynching of a man in Georgia…with songs and dancing!? Wow! “Parade” explores a very heavy issue with an unbelievably powerful story. Unlike “Wicked,” there are very few uplifting songs with cute lyrics and crazy aeronautic acrobatic moves. Yet, the play’s musical format assists in sharing with the audience a story filled with meaningful lessons and profound emotions. Although they were quite subtle, the actors had short, funny lines throughout the play that broke up the seriousness of the play.

    This play differs from most musicals in that it does not end on a happy note. The lynching of Mr. Leo concludes the play with a very sad and moving tone. However, there are glimmers of hope throughout the rest of the performance. The scene where Mr. and Mrs. Leo share a picnic lunch in the jail showed me how even in times of such despair and gloom, happiness still exists. Moreover, the successful appeal of Mr. Leo’s death sentence reminds the audience that not all politicians and people are as bad as they may appear to be.

    The actors in this performances delivered wonderful performances. The talent they possess came through during the songs, the dancing, and, most importantly, the deep lines of dialogue. Although we weren’t as close to the performers as we were in Theater J during “Imagining Madoff,” I still felt close to the actors because of their ability to strongly deliver their lines and create an intimate environment with the audience. This is essential for any play. Otherwise, the viewing public may feel a sense of disconnect with the actors and not fully take away the message of the play.

    Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed attending this stunning musical performance. The people behind the making of “Parade” took a chance in supporting a play with such mixed emotions and difficult scenes to view. I hope aspiring playwrights continue to share such strong stories with audiences.

  7. “Parade” was simply brilliant. What I liked about it the most was that it made me feel something which has not ceased since I walked away from the historic Ford’s Theater. This beautiful musical sent through a roller coaster of emotions. From being angry at seeing the Confederate flag being flown with such zeal at the beginning of the musical, to laughing at Mary Phegan’s playfulness in the “Picture Show” scene, to being heartbroken at the scene which the two main characters sang “All the Wasted Time,” my emotions were all over the place.

    What I was left with, however, was the feeling of anger from the song that the musical started and ended with, “The Old Red Hills.” In the beginning, this song showed us what the South was about, “Of a way of life that’s pure/ Of the truth that must endure.” They basically said that they are willing to do what it takes to keep a “pure” life, meaning eliminating those which they feel contradict this life (Yankees, especially Jews). By the end of the play, even after seeing that they killed the wrong guy (after Frank said that he didn’t do it before getting lynched), they ended with the same song. Even after they lynched the wrong guy, someone who contradicted their “pure” Confederate lifestyle, they still praised upholding this lifestyle by singing, “Let all the blood of the North spill upon them/Till they’ve paid for what they’ve wrought/ Taken back the lies they’ve taught/And there’s peace in Marietta/And we’re safe again in Georgia.” It is essentially saying that they don’t feel bad at what they did, for they were defending their way of life. It really got me angry.

    “Parade”’s music was perfect, not only because it was so incredibly beautiful, but because it was beautiful despite the not-so-beautiful circumstances. For some musicals, like “Hairspray” for example, it makes sense to include singing. For “Parade”, however, music would be the last thing I would add to a story about a lynching. However, it makes the performance. For instance, when the factory girls sang during the trial about being “harassed” by Frank, one of my favorite songs of the musical, I was just blown away. In fact, I had to go straight home to buy that song. Why would I want to listen to a song about girls explaining what Frank did (or didn’t do) to harass them over and over again? How could such beauty come from such a horribleness? As I write this, I am at a loss of words on how I felt being torn between the beautiful and the ugly. Despite being unable to put my feelings into words, I can say that I loved what “Parade” did, and I will be coming back to see it again.

    How did everyone else feel about the songs amidst the injustice onstage? Does anyone have an idea what the playwright had in mind when ingeniously mixing beautiful music with a situation that was anything but beautiful?

  8. Pauline brilliantly applied the theme of judgement to her personal experience.”Parade” really puts this into perspective.

    In the play, the seemingly small acts of judgement passed by the townspeople, and in a consequential case, their perjurious allegations caused everlasting and detrimental effects to their victim. The townspeople surmise the unjust and wrong claims against Leo, which only perpetuates the thoughtless and unreasonable judgment. Pauline stated that at one point she even questioned his innocence. Unfortunately for Leo, judgement lead to his execution.

    I agree with Pauline. Who has the right to judge? Nowadays so many efforts endeavor to stop cyber bullying, discrimination, xenophobia, etc. but to little avail. We really should think about our own judgement in our everyday lives and also think about the effects it may have.

  9. Being my first musical, I was greatly pleased with Parade. I was surprised at how well the music, lights, background sound effects, cotumes, and props all worked so harmoniously together to produce such an exciting and conterversial play. I was expecially impressed how the lights were so well coordinated, allowing cast members to add and take away props transforming the stage without disrupting the plot line. I was also extremely impressed with (as James mentioned in his post) the actors never broke out of character, even when they were only in the background, they continued to commit to character with every gesture and facial expression.

    Aside from the technical part of the musical, I was also amazed at how well Parade was able to take so many important and conterversial issues and put them on stage all at once. I felt the musical was so well put together in that it had a main plot line, the unjust execution of Leo, but at the same time it included other key issues that represented numerous points of views. In other words, the story wasn’t a one-sided account of an event, rather it was a story that was being told through numerous eyes Leo’s, Leo’s wife, the servant, the murdered girl’s mother, etc. Including everyones point of view not only made the musical more entertaining but more dynamic in that it gave us the opportunity to put our selves in different shoes and truly understand the other characters and other key conterversial issues that otherwise may have gone unmentioned.

  10. To take Alex Arnold’s cultural identity conflict one step further, I want to point out the religious conflict that was so heavily apparent to me throughout the play. Initially Frank sings a song about how he does not feel like he belongs in the south as a Jew from New York. This religious and cultural isolation makes Frank an isolated character from the start. Frank is never really shown with friends or acquaintances throughout the play. Instead he is constantly focused on his work, in his own world. One particular scene that caught my eye was when Frank was convicted with murder. Immediately after the verdict, the people in the courtroom began circling Frank in enjoyment, all holding chairs in the air above their heads. I found this moment in direct opposition to a traditional Jewish bar mitzvah where instead the bar mitzvah himself is lifted up on a chair in celebration while others circle around him. Those celebrating the verdict of Frank at this time were mocking Judaism with these actions which made for a truly brilliant moment that helped me understand the magnitude of cultural and religious exclusion that Frank was experiencing.

    I am not a huge fan of musicals, but I really enjoyed the power of the songs, acting and technical aspects of Parade. I could honestly see myself going to see this play again.

  11. After watching the relatively slow moving and highly climactic “Imagining Madoff” last week, I expected Parade — being a musical — to be a highly energetic and more eye-catching entertaining with less thought provoking content. While the first of my expectations was met, there was still more of complex story delivery than I had originally thought. The opening song was performed with great passion, and it really set the mood for the rest of the performance. Hearing it again at the end brought a sense of completeness that to me implied the idea that “the world keeps turning,” even after main character has been killed.

    There were many subtle features that I really appreciated, such as using transitional songs to also change the features of the set. I remember after the scene in the courtroom, all the other characters hold their chairs as they dance around Leo and mock him, but as the song comes to a close and Leo is left alone, the set has now become empty to accurately depict the accommodations of his jail cell. While the set itself was not the same flawless and perfectly planned design that Imagining Madoff had, the active nature that it demonstrated made up for any lack of precise detail.

    The show as a whole was a bit of an emotional rollercoaster, as Pauline mentioned. In the beginning, I saw Frank as a bit of a whiner, but as the play ran its course, I found myself angry at him, laughing at him, feeling sorry for him, then feeling confused by his actions. His character was complex yet still able relatable throughout the story. The actor’s ability to depict the meek character that Leo Frank actually was, yet also be able to be a pompous womanizer that he was accused of being really impressed me. The acting and fluidity of the show were definitely on point, especially for being the first complete run-through of the performance. If I can offer a small bit of criticism, I would say in a couple of scenes in the second half, that regular dialog rather than singing might have served better. I felt at times that singing through some of what I considered to be minor details only drug out the scene unnecessarily. Even with that in mind, I found the performance very enjoyable and definitely well done overall.

  12. In a similar fashion to Imaganing Madoff, Parade is informed and strengthened by what the audience brings to the theatre. For everyone who saw the play on thursday, the memory of Troy Davis made the play relevant and heartbreaking. The music, acting, and staging of the play were magnificent, but as I left the theatre my thoughts were about the death penalty. I’ve always been against the death penalty, but Parade really underscores why I feel the death penalty should be abolished. If we can learn anything from Parade it’s the power of coercion. Lawyers and prosecutors have leverage against witnesses and often people are all too willing to bend the truth to avoid jail even if it means sending an innocent person to jail. Prosecutors careers are based on conviction rates, and they are predisposed to assume guilt. The system is rigged against defendents especially in area’s where the populace is already predjudiced towards the defendent. Parade takes place in 1915 when lynchings and executions based on race or religion were still happening in the south. Today we think that nothing like that can happen today. That’s why seeing this play on the day after Troy Davis’s execution is profoundly tragicomic.

    On a totally differnet note I loved the music and thought the singing dialogue between Leo Frank and his wife where he talks about never really appreciating her was very moving. One of the things I disliked about Leo immidiatly was that he disrespected his loving wife and took her for granted. Once he learned to appreciate her I think he found a new love for his wife. Before his trial and detention I think he was unhappy and ungrateful. He asked at the end what gods plan for him was, and I think in the context of the play he was meant to realize how much he loved his wife.

    • Ian, I totally agree with you about the singing dialogue between Leo and his wife. It was incredibly beautiful with Leo finally realizing that he took advantage of such a loving wife. It was one of the best songs of the musical, for me. However, this song made me even more sad because I knew that eventually he was going to be murdered. This new-found love for his wife would end up not mattering too much (except for at that moment). Leo ended up losing more than his life that morning, he lost his new chance with his wife.

      Nothing seemed to go right for Leo Frank. Many may think that this lack of justice only occurred in the past. However, the Troy Davis case helps us remind us that it also happens now. Police still coerce “witnesses” into making up stories to get “their guy.” Towns still lust for the blood of someone who they think committed a murder. Court rooms still are biased against the poor or “outsiders” in their communities, such as Jews in the case of “Parade” and minorities in the present, because of a lack of good representation and jury selection. I think this musical is a call to action for us to do what we can to change ourselves and the system so that innocent people, like Frank and possibly Davis, never have to die again.

  13. This week’s play was both captivating and sobering. Parade, based on a true story, served as a reminder that times of racial criminalization is still alive 100 years later. The very similar story of Troy Davis, a man put to death for a murder conviction based on circumstantial evidence, was also big in the news this week which served as a modern reference for a age old story.

    When I first heard that the story of Leo Frank had been adapted into a Tony award winning musical, I was confused as to how that would affect the seriousness of the heartbreaking story. Having learned about the story of Leo Frank in school, I had a little background on the injustice that lead to the lynching of a Jewish man in Georgia. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the play did not make light of the story. I also appreciated how the play gave many perspectives as to why Leo Frank was targeted in the murder Abigail. From the Governor and prosecutor to the reporter and servants, everyone had their own motives as to why Leo Frank should pay for a crime he had not committed.

    One number in particular that I enjoyed the most was that of the African American servants singing about how for once they were not the targets of racial injustice. The number really gave a good look into the hierarchy of oppression in the south during this time. This situation, while horrible, was a regular occurrence in the black community at that time. I feel that this number showcased how blacks possibly felt about the Frank case and why they might not have told the truth while testifying.

    The actors overall did a great job conveying the complexities of their characters and had great singing abilities which helped to convey the messages of the songs. I really found the actor playing Leo Frank to be outstanding. The actor’s mannerisms, speech patterns, facial expressions, and overall stage presence where eye catching. I believe he did the role justice.

    I was also particularly moved by the opening remarks in which the director stated that the performance of the play was dedicated to Troy Davis and his family. To have a story so similar happen almost 100 years later really puts into perspective how far America has to go with correcting social injustices against minorities

  14. I won’t lie; it was difficult for me to “get into” the play at first. I knew what Leo’s fate would be in the end, and that fact loomed like a dark abyss. Therefore, it felt strange to see the light-heartedness in some of the musical numbers, and I almost felt guilty because I thought I was supposed to feel somber throughout the entirety. However, as the play progressed, the conflicting angles of comedy, drama, and tragedy meshed together perfectly.

    I most enjoyed the staging of the play. One thing that I thought about was the difference in elevation. I thought about what it meant to have the governor and his wife almost exclusively interacting on the second floor of the set. To me the split elevation signified elitism and a disconnect from general society. Another scene that took place on the second floor was when the reporter was celebrating his new fame and creativity. His song openly revealed that his goal was to paint a wholly negative picture of Leo, and thus, incriminate him unjustly. His placement above the common ground of society indicates that he is now obsessed with selfish ambition, and that he no longer cares about the repercussions of his actions, and whether or not an innocent man will be executed.

    The final, and most significant scenes in the play is on higher elevation as well. The scene with Mary and Leo is split into two parts in order to leave the audience with a degree of suspense. Leo is working after hours in his office, utterly separated from society and immersed in calculations when Mary arrives requesting her pay. After receiving her money, Mary turns back to Leo, and the first part of the scene ends leaving the audience wondering if Leo could have possibly committed the horrendous crime. After his hanging, the audience is returned to the scene in Leo’s office, where Mary merely wishes Leo a happy holiday before turning and leaving. Leo remains at his desk on the second floor of the stage while the final rendition of “The Old Red Hills” progresses below. Leo’s placement above the crowd of Georgian’s symbolizes his separation in life, and now his elevation in death, and proves that a simple and proud group of people can easily become an angry lynch mob during trying times.

  15. Parade was a great musical. I really enjoyed all it had to offer, although I was a bit anxious to see the play a day after Troy Davis’ execution. I found myself thinking about him and all the similarities between him and Leo Frank. Both in Georgia, both convicted of murdering someone, both potentially innocent; it was just a very eerie situation.

    I pretty much grew up around the theater because my father is a drama teacher, but Parade was never a musical he paid attention to, so I didn’t know much about it until the reading. Since I do have a slight theatrical background, I found myself looking more at the technical aspects rather then the content of the show. Some flaws in the production deterred my ability to fully absorb the subject matter. Granted, it was a dress rehearsal, so it was not going to be perfect, but some parts were hard to ignore.

    However, after I tried to put aside my technical thoughts, the only thing I was really able to focus on that actually came out of the content was the whole judgmental aspect. It was not surprising that in that time the townspeople would be more likely to accuse someone who was not like them, and Leo Frank, a Jewish man from Brooklyn, was definitely not southern. It is amazing to me to see the progression of judgment of different groups of people in our world.

    Overall, I do think that the musical Parade is an interesting controversial story filled with emotion.

  16. Going into Parade I knew that the story would end in a tragedy. The entire play centered around the innocence of Leo Frank. Despite knowing this, the musical did a wonderful job of making me want for Leo to make it through. The first half takes the audience through the events of the day when the alleged murder takes place up until Leo is found guilty. The music and choreography, particularly in the courthouse at the end of the first half, are wonderful and keep you in the story. However, this part of the story is the one you already know will happen, a man wrongly convicted.

    For me it wasn’t until the second half that the largest portion of attachment to the characters emerged. Mr. and Mrs. Frank try so desperately to find a way out and at each success they have along the way you start to believe they might just pull it off, ignoring that you already know the outcome. And when the finale of the play does arrive it comes very quickly. The actual lynching of Leo Frank takes only ten minutes at most of the nearly two and a half hour performance. I appreciate that the production did not draw out the crime to drill a point home and perhaps the brevity of the scene emphasizes the suddenness of how it happened. The final two scenes left me feeling somewhat unresolved. Leo had been killed and his wife had been informed but it didn’t seem like it changed the people of the town. Again, perhaps it was the intention of the play to leave it that way. It underscores the tragedy even more that we aren’t told that people learn from it. There is some solace in the fact though in the fact that a real life lynching produced a play that allows the audience to think about it.

  17. After reading the most recent articles on Troy Davis I was extremely anxious to attend Thursday evening’s dress rehearsal of Parade. I did not know very much about the 1914 case in Georgia, but I had heard a great deal about Davis’s case. I was curious to learn about the similarities between the two cases. However, I found that while viewing the play I became more focused on a side theme.

    Parade brought to life history that had been long laid to rest. It allowed me to relate to a story almost one hundred years old. I enjoyed the variety of musical selections and thought the actors did a wonderful job of representing the internal struggles of their characters. I was particularly impressed with the character of Mrs. Frank.

    She gave the audience a lens through which to see the frustrations and challenges a woman in 1914 experienced. Mr. and Mrs. Frank’s relationship develops and changes throughout the play. At first, she is only a housewife. Her role is to serve her husband’s happiness and not to speak or act on her own accord. She has several musical pieces in the play where she expresses her anger about the role she is confined to and her desire to be treated differently. It is not until her husband is helpless and retrained in jail that Mrs. Frank is able to act and make decisions that affect them both. Only then does Mr. Frank realize that is wife is capable of so much more than he thought.

    After Mr. Frank is executed, there is a scene at the end of the play where Mrs. Frank is speaking to the local reporter. He inquires as to why she has not left town, hasn’t she had enough? She responds that Georgia is her home and she will not be driven out of it. At this moment, I felt a respect for her, for the strength she represented. She was bold. She stepped out of the circle of social acceptability in order to save her husband. She suffered massive public criticism in the process, but she was able to remain strong in the end. After her husband’s passing, she did not return to the obedient female role that would have been expected of her in 1914.

    However, most women in 1914 were not as “lucky” as Mrs. Frank. Their husbands did not go to jail and they were not given the opportunity to prove themselves and act independently. They instead lived out their lives as housewives in the shadow of their husbands and governments.

  18. I agree with everyone that Parade was an interesting performance and it certainly caused me to feel attached and invested in the characters and the storyline. I also experienced a wide range of emotions throughout the performance due to the intertwined comedy and tragedy. I would, however, like to break from the consensus that it was an outstanding musical. The music itself was not that great, despite the many previous comments to the contrary. The harmonization and synchronization, especially among the women, was poorly executed and most of the actors had no solid foundation behind their voices. The only two actors who I thought were outstanding were the two African-American performers, whose voices were superb. Mrs. Frank’s voice, on the other hand, was small and wavering, and at times barely audible. For such a strong role the she played in getting her husband cleared of execution, her voice sure didn’t show it. Mr. Frank’s singing was also weak and you could hear his voice crack at some points (which I doubt was deliberate). On stage you have to have a powerful voice that projects, and that is especially important, and even more difficult, when you’re singing. In a musical, one must have a lot of power behind their voice. I felt Parade lacked in this respect. I would also like to agree with Mark that the songs really didn’t have a lot of variation in their content and sound.
    On another note, something that struck me about Parade is the use and portrayal of the media. You really didn’t pick up on that by reading the script for the Lynching of Leo Frank, which made little to no mention of any media outlets. But seeing the reporter and the way that he, and the other background journalists, hyped up the ‘monster’ that was Leo Frank, I think it was better understood how the community was so willing to not believe him and lie. By creating this false reality, the media instilled within the community an automatic bias against the man. Any desire for truth was supplanted with a desire to see someone pay for the crime committed, regardless of how innocent the person was. Little do they realize, though, that in their search for ‘justice’ the people of the community turned into the very type of monster for which they were hunting.
    Another thing that I thought interesting was the lack of the ‘mob’ feeling in Parade. In the Lynching of Leo Frank, and in the real situation, the anger of the mob was VERY present. I think, in fact, the play alluded to that very ‘angry mob’ playing large in the jury’s return of a guilty verdict. Yet you don’t see that in Parade.
    Finally, something I thought that could have been utilized more in the musical is the fact that Mary Phagan’s casket was buried at center of the front part of the stage and that it remained there for duration of the performance. It went largely unnoticed and I think it could have played a larger role in the unfolding of the events in the musical.

  19. This was my first musical production that I have attended and It was definetly a great way to become introduced to musical theater.

    PARADE presented me with a multitude of challenging social concepts that are still prevelant in todays world. We can see the concept of social cohesiveness present as Mr. Frank becomes falsly accoused of being a rapist, adulterer, and murderer. Although we have seen a difference in our juducal system in the United States, I couldn’t help but think of the situation of my home in Mexico where these acts of false accusations are very alive and well. According to a longitudinal study conducted by graduate students at UC Berkeley, Ninety-two percent of the accused were convicted on witness testimony alone in the enitre Mexican Republic.

    The story of Leo Frank hits home as every second of the musical and Frank’s story reminded me of a close friend that I have who is currently incarcerated in federal prison in Mexico because police officers placed drugs in his pocket because of political retaliation against him and his family. This account is no where near the horrendous telling of Frank’s story, however, irregardless of outcome, no one in the world should have to suffer the consequences of a malicious, broken judicial system.

    If PARADE does not remind us of the social responsibility to be honest, caring people then the countless individuals that have endured and possibly passed-on because of a corrupt judicial system and political malevolence will be replaced by new individuals to fill the voids of this cycle of evil.

  20. The Lady beneath the Mountain of Georgia

    It’s a love story. Lila tied a read new scarf around the collar of her lover, who was about to join the confederate army, to free the south. Time pass by, the hair of the young soldier turn white. With accompany of his neighbor, he put a lily in front of his beloved’s grave.

    I failed to catch the lyrics of the songs of the musical during the show. But it didn’t affect my enjoyment for the show. The connection between the performers and me got even stronger without the attention to the lyrics. During the song “The Old Red Hills of Home”, the passion of the performers, the vivid lights cast on the stage moved me. When I was enjoying it again, the mountain of Georgia was in my horizon for the second time.

    It’s a love story, but it’s also a set of tragedies. It’s premise on the death of a teenage girl and the death of innocent Leo. However, the tragedy of Lucia, Leo’s beloved, is the most prominent.

    After Leo was sent to prison, her unconditional devotion to Leo is indispensible. She attended the court for Leo, regardless of the pressure on her. She sneaked into the ball by the Governor, in order to gain support on this case. She worked hard, and finally found another attorney to help him. All these sacrifices for her beloved are great.

    But the scene move me is the picnic she prepared for Leo in the prison. She arranged everything, paid the bill when Leo is off, prepared for the picnic and bribed the prison-keeper. The key is she encouraged Leo. She brought him with a good mood and encouraged him by saying “We will have a picnic outside soon”. It’s hard to imagine how many difficulties she has undergone from the misunderstood from the Neighbor and the journalists, to the payment to the bills. She worked hard with all these burdens. Instead of complaint, she insisted her husband’s innocent and support him with hope and smile.

    Even Leo was dead.

    I could hear the sound of her broken heart, when she saw the rings of her husband. The crowd is singing, while Lucia went through every single person’s face carefully in the crowd, to find her husband. She didn’t believe her husband’s death was a truth. Under the song of the “the Old Red Hills of Home”, Lucia’s face looked so determinant. But we know she would never get her husband back.

    When I close my eyes, the splendid red mountain of Georgia appears in my eyes. Beneath the mountain, a lady is carefully arranging the necessities on a picnic cloth, looking towards some place far away, forever.

  21. Parade presented the audience with the power of human collectivism. In many regards the term collective when used a social condition signifies that a given society is united, together, stand as one during any situations. While the mentioned gives a sense of positive feeling, we can see via the tragedy of the Leo Frank story that even a comfortable thought like the unification of people can be for malice.

    Leo Frank, an immigrant from New York to the great state of Georgia post-Civil War, suffered the consequences of a man’s political incentive to commit murder to make a name for himself in the hopes of becoming governor. In reference to the theater production of “Imagining Madoff” that is currently showing at J theater, the character of Bernie Madoff in the play makes a comparison between salmon and the movement of money and power. Fictional Madoff states that he likes to reach in and kill the salmon and eat it. He has gained power by doing so. The character of Hugh Dorsey demonstrated what Madoff speaks of, however, in Parade the killing if real and it is of a man, not a fish.

    Another remarkable concept is the strong undertone of Feminism that is portrayed in the musical. Lucille Frank, Frank’s wife and native Georgian, initially was presented to the audience of the Ford Theater as a timid southern woman. Mrs. Frank demonstrated a strong sense of loyalty to Mr. Frank, even during his most stubborn moments where he would ask her to take care of task without recognizing that she was doing more than visiting him, rather, she was keeping him sane. One can see that Mrs. Frank can be represented as both the hero–after she persuaded the governor to revisit the case by going to each of the “victims” and really getting the truth behind their story–and as the victim–due to the loss of her husband that she supported throughout his years in prison.

    I enjoyed Parade’s ability to touch upon many different social concepts that were at play during that era. Social concepts that lead to the death of an innocent man and the victory of a political camping for governor.

  22. Earlier this week, I went to watch Parade in Ford’s Theatre. Watching this production in the shadow of Lincoln’s assassination, as well as just after the execution of Troy Davis the week prior- made watching this play quite eerie.

    As a social outcast, Leo Frank made the perfect scape goat in the murder of the young, teenage, blonde-haired girl with the southern charm. A Jewish man from the north, himself admitted he did not fit in Georgia. The fact that the entire town blames him for the murder, goes to show the community’s willingness to recall memory differently just to support their stereotype. It was as if everyone just wanted to jump into the bandwagon, and feared being alone.

    This lynching of Frank, reminded me of the countless lynchings of black southerners during that time. I recalled Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit”, as the maid and watchman sang the song about people not caring had this been a black girl that was murdered.

    Sadly, even today the justice system is not blind. The parallelism in the murder of Frank and Davis are too congruous. Both men, had witnesses recant their stories, persecuted based on race/religion, were given false hope (appeals for Davis), were killed cowardly in the middle of the night, and professed their innocence until their death.

    Whereas Frank’s death was a lynching by citizens, Davis’s was by civil servants. With the last minute decision made by the Supreme Court, a basis or reasoning was not even presented until after Davis’s death.

    Both men were killed at the hands of their peers, and both accepted that their deaths were in the name of something bigger. Frank’s lynching, like others, foreshadowed the innocent, racially motivated murders in the name of justice, which still exist today.

  23. I had the pleasure of being able to attend Parade a week after the class did. This past week I have really enjoyed listening to everyone’s reactions and started to consider what mine would be. On top of this I saw Fela last night (I highly recommend it), which was a completely different format but still moving and brilliant all the same. Seeing them on following nights really highlighted the completely different style the playwrights chose to emphasize their messages through. I just would like to say I would love to talk about this on Thursday.

    One of the coolest aspects of going to the play tonight was being able to become involved with the community discussion following the end of the play. It was clearly a very diverse group of people of all ages, ethnicities, and religions. There are just a few aspects of this conversation that I would like to quickly bring up and discuss because I thought they were some really unique interesting viewpoints.

    The first conversation topic was actually brought up because there were two different groups in the audience that were from Atlanta. They talked about the fact that in their opinion Atlanta has not gotten much better when it comes to being open to outsiders. They both brought up the new immigration laws, which are some of the strictest in America. I just thought this point was really interesting because it is probably not something that would be brought up unless you were talking to someone from Atlanta.

    The second aspect was that people have an amazing ability to forget these tragic and hateful events like the one Parade centered around. An audience member brought up the fact that now the factory the young girl was killed in has been turned into lofts and was being called something like “pencil factory lofts”. This story was among one of the biggest injustices in the history of Atlanta and the factory it happened in has been commercialized. Another woman brought up the story of Emmett Till and simply asked something like “Why aren’t these names household names”? I think that is a really powerful question and there could be a whole conversation based just on that.

    The next two things that I want to focus on is my specific reaction to the play. One of my main thoughts through out the play was “what sparked this mob mentality?” Murders and tragedies happen everyday without creating this citywide mob mentality for revenge. By the end, I had come up with the conclusion that it was two people that sparked this, the reporter and the prosecutor. They did this by focusing on one thing, Leo Franks in an outsider. He speaks different, he has a different religion (practices it differently), he has “brought” this industrialization with him, and he really just doesn’t fit in. This play was set when the South still had very strong feelings about the Civil War. The prosecutor was able to tap into these very fresh feelings and paint Leo as this man from the north who brought all the evil into their community. The rage at Leo wasn’t only for this girl, but in reality all the rage that had been building up in Atlanta at what they saw as injustices by the North.

    The next and last thing I will talk is the fact that this play is a musical. During intermission I heard a man in the lobby say, “I just can’t understand why this play is a musical?” While I understand what he means by this, that musicals are generally happy and fun plays, I just could not picture this play as anything but a musical. For me, music allows me to see into the soul of somebody. While I understand the pros of a great monologue, nothing will compare to Leo and his wife sitting on their picnic blanket in a jail cell singing one of the most moving songs I have ever heard about taking each other for granted. Music simply takes the emotions in the play and stretches them to the extreme and through every song these emotions keep tearing you in different directions. The score, which was brilliant, takes the emotions in the play and forces you to confront them; there is nowhere to hide.

    In conclusion, I just want to say that this play was an emotional rollercoaster for me and I came away truly moved. I thought the actors were brilliant, the music was stunning, and the story evoked so many emotions that it has been all I have been able to think about all night.

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