See article in its original context here by Allison Hilbig for Theatre People.
The real life mystery of Parade: was Leo Frank innocent or guilty?
With book by Alfred Uhry and music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown, Parade tells the true story of the trial of Jewish factory worker, Leo Frank, who was accused and convicted of raping and murdering a 13 year old employee in Atlanta, Georgia in 1913.
Luigi Lucente (Rocky Horror Show, Pippin, The Last 5 Years, Assassins, Wicked, Jersey Boys, Guys and Dolls) plays the lead role of Leo Frank. In preparation for this role, Lucente undertook extensive research: reading books, searching the internet, watching documentaries and mini series. What he discovered was that 100 years later, this story is still a hotly debated topic with people fiercely divided about what they thought really happened. As Lucente says, “The first casualty of Parade, in my mind, is the truth.”
Certain elements of the story have been extrapolated for dramatic effect but these are minor details within the show. What remains is a fairly true depiction of what actually took place – something Lucente refers to as “hauntingly scary.”
During the first rehearsals the cast spent some time sifting through all their research to understand what really took place. Lucente described it as a very collaborative process, with everyone submitting ideas from their individual research. While the cast need to be true to the text, the research helped to inform them of the differing opinions and assisted in the establishment of their characters.
Lucente describes the show as an incredibly rich tapestry of mystery, lies and secrets. The writing is crafted in such a way that the audience (and even the performers) are not necessarily certain if Leo Frank is indeed guilty or innocent. Intrigued, I asked Lucente how the show will leave audiences – is there a resolution? Lucente expects the show will linger with audiences for some time. Parade does not attempt to resolve this true story – there still remains divided speculation about whether Leo Frank was indeed innocent or guilty.