KSU Stages Jason Robert Brown's PARADE in Marietta, Where Leo Frank Was Hanged
Kennesaw State University's Department of Theatre and Performance Studies will present PARADE tonight, November 19 at 7:30 p.m. at the historic Strand Theatre in Marietta and on November 22 at 4 p.m. at The Temple-Atlanta. This Tony Award-winning musical recounts the sequence of events that culminated in the 1915 lynching of Leo Frank, the Jewish manager of a pencil factory who was accused of murdering Mary Phagan, a 13-year-old employee. This will be the first time the musical has been staged in Marietta, where Frank was hanged.
The musical, the product of playwright Alfred Uhry ("Driving Miss Daisy") and composer Jason Robert Brown ("Bridges of Madison County"), premiered on Broadway in 1998 and won two Tony awards. The concert-style staging, directed by College of the Arts (COTA) interim associate dean and theater professor Harrison Long with musical direction by Judith Cole, COTA's resident musical director, commemorates the one-hundredth anniversary of these tragic moments in Georgia's history.
"To my knowledge, PARADE has never been performed in Marietta, the community where Leo Frank was lynched. I think it's time. This show helps us better understand where we are today because it reminds us where we came from. But despite the atrocities of our past, PARADE is an incredibly beautiful, moving and entertaining piece of musical theatre. The entertainment factor helps us relax enough and trust enough to let down our defenses. I'm a more compassionate person for having worked on PARADE. I hope our audiences will feel something similar when they leave the theatre," said Long.
Uhry will hold an open conversation about PARADE at the Stillwell Theater on KSU's Kennesaw campus at 3:30 p.m. on November 19. The presentation is free and open to the public.
Kennesaw State University Department of Theatre and Performance Studies has been examining this painful chapter in Southern history in conjunction with the Kennesaw State University Office of the President, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, and the Department of Museums, Archives and Rare Books, as well as the Paul and Beverly Radow Lecture Series and The Temple-Atlanta.
PARADE will be performed on Nov. 19 at 7:30 p.m. at the Strand Theater in Marietta; purchase tickets ($5-20) at ticketing.kennesaw.edu or call 470-578-6650. Immediately following the performance, Dr. Catherine Lewis will host a talkback with playwright Alfred Uhry and director Harrison Long.
A smaller, scaled-down production will be presented at The Temple-Atlanta on Nov. 22 at 4 p.m., followed by a talkback with theatre professor Karen Robinson and musical director Judith Cole. Free with required registration: paradetemple.eventbrite.com.
Kennesaw State University is the third-largest university in Georgia, offering nearly 150 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees. A member of the University System of Georgia, Kennesaw State is a comprehensive university with more than 33,000 students from over 130 countries. In January 2015, Kennesaw State and Southern Polytechnic State University consolidated to create one of the 50 largest public universities in the country.
Pictured: Leo M. Frank in the "Tower" in the Atlanta City Jail after his conviction. Image courtesy Leo Frank General Collection from the Cuba Family Archives at the Breman Museum.