The Story of Leo Frank Returns to Broadway
The 1998 Tony award-winning musical Parade is heading back to Broadway. The show depicts the story of Leo Frank, a Jewish factory manager who became the victim of mob violence and whose story led to the founding of the Anti-Defamation League.
Award-winning actor Ben Platt, known for his title role in the Broadway musical Dear Evan Hansen, will play Frank. Leo Frank’s wife Lucille will be played by Micaela Diamond, known best for her role as Babe in The Cher Show which garnered a nomination for Best Breakout Broadway Performance of the Decade.
The show is based on the book by Alfred Uhry. The author, from Atlanta, Georgia, was born into a Jewish middle-class family and had his first major success with his book Driving Miss Daisy. The songs were composed by Jason Robert Brown, who was brought into the production of Parade after presenting the opening song “The Old Red Hills of Home.” Uhry explained, “I really was moved to tears by it, and still am. I told [Brown] when I started this, that I didn’t want this to be some sort of noble thing about this Jewish man who was brought down by vicious rednecks, because I didn’t see it that way. Because I’m Southern, and I know that those people suffered. I know that they were defeated. I know that their lives were ruined, and they had believed in that cause with all their heart and soul, and that they lost. And not only did they lose, they went home, they lost their farms. They had been moved to town, and they had to put their little kids to work. It was a hard thing. And I told him some things about the South, he read some things about the South, and then he wrote that amazing song.”
Leo Frank was originally from Brooklyn and moved to Atlanta where he became the manager of a pencil factory. In 1913, Mary Phagan, a 13-year-old girl, was found dead in a cellar. Frank was convicted of her murder, though little evidence was found to prove it, and he was sentenced to death. Frank’s sentence was commuted to life in prison but he was taken by a mob and lynched. The New York Jewish Week compared it to the Dreyfus Affair in France. Though the incident and ensuing press resulted in the reinvigorating of the Ku Klux Klan, it was also the catalyst for the founding of the Anti-Defamation League.
The Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre will host Parade beginning February 21.