‘Parade’ revival starring Ben Platt as Jewish lynching victim Leo Frank heads to Broadway


(New York Jewish Week) — A revival of “Parade,” a musical about the 1915 lynching of Jewish factory manager Leo Frank, will arrive on Broadway this spring, following a successful seven-performance run last November. 

Ben Platt, the Jewish Tony-award winning actor who originated the title role in the Broadway hit “Dear Evan Hansen,” will star as Leo Frank. Micaela Diamond will play Frank’s wife, Lucille. Both actors performed these roles in the show’s New York City Center run, which received strong notices. Director Michael Arden will also return. 

With songs and a book written by Jason Robert Brown and Albert Uhry, the musical opened on Broadway for a short run in 1998. The musical won Tony awards for Best Book and Best Score.

“Parade” centers around the real-life story of Brooklyn-born Frank, who managed a pencil factory in Atlanta where, in 1913, the body of 13-year-old Mary Phagan was found in a cellar. Despite very little evidence, Frank was found guilty of her murder and sentenced to death. In 1915, when Frank’s sentence was commuted to life in prison, he was kidnapped by an armed mob and lynched. 

The case — which the New York Jewish Week called “America’s Dreyfus Affair” in an article about the City Center run — at the time attracted rampant and sensationalized press, both reinvigorating the Ku Klux Klan and inspiring the founding of the Anti-Defamation League.

In addition to centering Frank’s strained marriage, the show examines antisemitism and white supremacy — topics many noted were timely amidst worries about rising antisemitism and anti-Asian hate in New York and elsewhere. 

“This show is all about not only antisemitism, but the failure of the country to protect lots of marginalized groups, and we’re all feeling that really intensely right now,” Platt told the New York Times in October.

While critics have often wondered if “Parade” would ever attract audiences with its serious message and grim on-stage events, the New York City Center performances garnered widely positive reviews. Wrote Ben Windman in amNY, “on the strengths of the casting, score, and storytelling, this makes for a gripping and thrilling production.”

“Parade” will begin previews at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre (242 W. 45th St.) on Feb. 21 and will open on March 16.