Tools and Strategies

Parade: A Reflection and Discussion Guide

Ben Platt and Micaela Diamond of the 2023 Broadway play "Parade"

Ben Platt and Micaela Diamond star in the 2023 Broadway play Parade, a musical dramatization of the 1913 trial of Leo Frank.

Play Synopsis

Parade, which originally premiered in 1998, is a musical dramatization of the 1913 trial of Leo Frank. Leo and Lucille Frank are a newlywed Jewish couple struggling to make a life in Georgia. Leo, a factory manager originally from Brooklyn, is accused and convicted of the rape and murder of his thirteen-year-old employee, Mary Phagan. This pushes the couple into an unimaginable test of faith, humanity, justice and devotion. We learn that there is no legitimate evidence and much media hysteria about the case. Because Leo Frank’s trial was filled with faulty testimony, misinformation and bias and lacked any clear evidence of his guilt, Georgia’s governor commutes his sentence from death to life imprisonment. Leo is transferred to a prison in Milledgeville, Georgia, where, two years later, a hateful mob of vigilantes kidnaps and lynches him in Mary Phagan’s hometown of Marietta, Georgia.  

The play delves into issues of antisemitism and racism, while exploring post-Reconstruction and early 20th Century life and relationships in the South. The “parade” in the show's title refers to the annual parade held on Confederate Memorial Day. It was on that day in 1913 that the rape and murder of Mary Phagan took place. The parade (which is seen at the start, middle and end of the musical to mark the passing of years) was a rallying point for Southerners still affected by their defeat in the Civil War. 

About the Guide

This reflection and discussion guide about the musical Parade is for middle and high school students and adults. The guide will assist audience members and others to reflect upon and discuss the artistic elements and themes of Parade. Written by Alfred Uhry and music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown, Parade was first performed on Broadway from 1998-1999, and then in 2023, received critical acclaim for its revival. The reflection and discussion guide includes a play synopsis, historical context, timeline of the case, exploration of the play’s themes, musical and artistic elements to consider, reflection and discussion questions, contemporary applications, and additional resources.