About the Director

Fr. Peter M. Donohue, O.S.A.

Peter M. Donohue, O.S.A. (Director) is chairperson of the Villanova University theatre department and teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in dramaturgy, musical theatre, and theatrical experience. He has received five Barrymore nominations for Outstanding Direction of a Musical for Parade, Children of Eden, Into the Woods, Evita, and Chicago, which received nine nominations and three 2002 Barrymore Awards, including Outstanding Direction of a Musical. Other directing credits at Villanova include City of Angels, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, West Side Story, Candide, and Once on This Island. His recent appearances on the Vasey stage include Twelfth Night, Don Juan, The Trojan Women, and The Passion of Christ.

Press Release

Villanova Theatre presents the Philadelphia Premiere of the Tony Award-winning musical PARADE

Villanova Theatre ends the 2003-2004 season with the Philadelphia Premiere of the Tony Award-winning musical Parade, the true story of Leo Frank, a shy Jewish man from Brooklyn, NY, who was accused of murdering thirteen-year old Mary Phagan in Atlanta, GA, in 1913.

Parade has been extended due to overwhelming ticket demand and now runs March 23–April 4 and April 13–25, 2004, at Vasey Hall on the Villanova University campus. Showtimes are 8:00pm Tuesday-Saturday and 2:00pm Sunday. Tickets are priced $18–$22 and may be ordered by calling the Villanova Theatre Box Office at (610)-519-7474. Additional information is available at

Parade features music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown, book by Alfred Uhry, and co-conception/ Broadway direction by Harold Prince. Originally produced at Lincoln Center in 1998, Parade won Tony Awards for Best Book and Best Original Score, as well as two Outer Critics Circle Awards and six Drama Desk Awards.

Villanova’s production of Parade is directed by theatre department chairperson Peter M. Donohue, O.S.A., winner of the 2002 Barrymore Award for Outstanding Direction of a Musical for Chicago. Donohue will direct a cast of 34 actors portraying dozens of historical roles in Villanova’s largest production to date.

In Parade, pencil factory supervisor Leo Frank is accused of killing one of his young workers. When an angry mob of citizens – suspicious of him because he is an outsider in a tight-knit community – calls for his execution, he turns to his Southern-belle wife and a governor with a conscience to defend him. The musical covers not only the murder and subsequent trial, but also dramatizes the relationship between Frank and his wife Lucille.

“Leo Frank was, tragically, the wrong man in the wrong place at the wrong time,” said Donohue. “Parade is a historical retelling of his story, but it also examines class and race relations, prejudice, and the South after the Civil War. Ultimately it addresses larger issues of religious intolerance, discrimination, and human rights violation.”

 Frank’s trial was an unprecedented media sensation in its time, producing three or four headlines a day, national coverage, a documentary, and angry public demonstrations.

“The people of Atlanta were resentful of interference from outsiders so the quickest way to solve the crime was taken,” said Donohue. “There was no careful examination of the crime scene, the body, the fingerprints. The murder took place and the townspeople wanted to punish someone...anyone. They pointed their fingers at Frank because he was different.”

Parade is also a story about a young couple who discover they have strength in each other. “They are able to sustain their relationship through the worst possible circumstances,” Donohue said. “Their relationship changes and Lucille changes – into a strong woman promoting a cause at a time when women had no voice.”

In recent years, the Frank case has generated a television mini-series (“The Murder of Mary Phagan” starring Jack Lemmon), a romance novel, and numerous books, including 2003’s “And The Dead Shall Rise,” Steve Oney’s definitive recounting of the crime and trial.

Bookwriter Alfred Uhry’s inspiration for Parade came from his own family. "Southern extended families are prone to telling stories and so are Jewish ones,” he recounted in an interview. “Mine was both, so I got a double dose. I grew up hearing about the quirks of distant relatives, in-laws, and a whole network of people I didn't know. They all came with stories attached. But nobody mentioned Leo Frank. Some of the family even walked out of the room if the name came up. I found this confusing, because I knew that my Great Uncle Sig had been his employer, and Lucille Frank was my grandmother's friend. Due to this hush-hush policy, I developed a fascination for the case...which led to the idea for Parade."

Uhry began his career as a lyricist under contract to Frank Loesser, and went on to write the music and lyrics for The Robber Bridegroom (1975). His first play, Driving Miss Daisy, opened in New York in 1987, winning the Outer Critics Circle Award and the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. For the film version, Uhry won an Academy Award and the film was voted Best Picture of the Year. Uhry's second play, The Last Night Of Ballyhoo, opened on Broadway in 1997. It was chosen Best Play by the American Theatre Critics Association, The Outer Critics Circle, and The Drama League, as well as winning the 1997 Tony Award.

Composer/lyricist Jason Robert Brown had one musical under his belt when he was approached to write the music and lyrics for Parade. In 1995 his musical Songs for a New World was produced in New York. He has also written music and lyrics for The Last Five Years (2001) and Urban Cowboy (2003).

The production team assembled for Parade includes Scenic Designer Dirk Durossette, Costume Designer Janus Stefanowicz, Lighting Designer Jerold R. Forsyth, Properties Designer cdavid hall-cottrill, Sound Designer Matt Callahan, Choreographer Barby Hobyak-Roche, and Dramaturg Gina Pisasale. Co-music director Kenneth T. Brill and co-music director/conductor John Baxindine will lead a nine-piece orchestra.

For tickets and information, please call the Villanova Theatre Box Office at 610-519-7474 or log on to

Production Photos

Cast of Characters

Young Soldier / Fiddlin': John Larry Cox Jr.
Aide / Mr. Peavy: Paul Recupero
Assistant: Joanna Smith
Old Soldier / Judge Roan: Bob Meenan
Lucille Frank: Nina Donze
Leo Frank: Josh Sauerman
Hugh Dorsey: Joe Leduc
Governor Slaton: David Cregan, O.S.A.
Sally Slaton: Alana Gerlach
Frankie Epps: Michael Barr
Mary Phagan: Amanda Murray
Iola Stover: Leigh Ann Brienza
Jim Conley: Andre N. Jones
J.N. Starnes: Nick Falco
Officer Ivey: Johnny Lozano
Newt Lee Ron: Lee Jones
Prison Guard: Joseph Cutalo
Mrs. Phagan: Melissa Dryslewski
Lizzi Phagan: Nancy Furey
Luther Rosser / Floyd McDaniel: Doug Durlacher
Britt Craig: Jason J. Michael
Tom Watson: Gregg Pica
Angela: Jennifer A. Brown
Riley: Bradley Candie
Nurse: Nicole Mancino
Monteen: Miggs O'Neill
Essie: Carrie Bray
Ensemble: Juan M. Bertran-Astor
Jennifer M. Brown
Rebecca Clair
Deborah Crane
Christina D. McGovern
Luc Radu
Gusten Rudolph