Peter Wheeler

Simple, flirtatious but ultimately selfish teenager who is Mary’s devoted friend and love interest. Initially playful, Frankie is radicalised by Mary’s death.

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SONGS
“The Picture Show” – with Mary Phagan
“Funeral: There is a Fountain” / “It Don’t Make Sense” – with Britt Craig, Iola Stover, Essie, Monteen, Mrs Phagan and Townspeople
“Trial Part III: Frankie’s Testimony” – with Mary Phagan

.Please note: Frankie will not be starting the last number “Finale/Red, Red Hills of Home (Reprise)”. I want Tom Watson to do it.

.Frankie Epps is the only major character in PARADE who was not a real person in history. But there was a George Epps.

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George Epps

George Epps

In the trial, George Epps testified that he boarded a streetcar with Mary Phagan at 11:50 on the day of her murder. Epps said they both got off the train at 12:07 near the pencil factory and that Mary has said she would meet him at 3:00 so they could watch the Confederate Day parade together. George Epps also testified that Mary said that she feared Frank because he had been flirting with her.

So clearly, George Epps is the real Frankie Epps. So why did Alfred Uhry change his name? Could it be because he used Frankie in the funeral and at the lynching which George didn’t actually attend and didn’t want to get into any trouble with any existing family members. But if that is true, wouldn’t he have changed the surname too?

George Epps was a 15 year old newspaper boy who was described in the newspapers as “bright and quick witted” and “a towheaded whippersnapper”. “Towheaded”, by the way, is an American expression meaning a person with very light (almost white) blond hair, “tow” being flax or hemp fibres.

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jape-boy-walton_cr

The sort of clothes Frankie would have worn

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He was also called Mary’s “boyfriend” and “boy chum”.

But Mary’s mother was not best pleased by his boasting that he was Mary’s “beau”. She said the she … “never heard Mary speak of any boy friends and that the statement that George Epps made … that Mary was a chum of Epps and that he had an engagement with Mary at a local drugs store was to her mind incorrect, as she heard Mary say that she detested Epps and Mrs Phagan (now known as Mrs Coleman due to her remarrying) is sure that Epps did not have any engagement with Mary on that Saturday afternoon as stated.”

I think the fictional Frankie is a young redneck, a chancer and I wouldn’t trust him as far as I could throw him. He flirts with Mary but as soon as he gets the brush off is straight onto the next girl in sight, Iola Stover. He is unreliable and a womaniser. He also has a ferocious temper and thinks that he is more important than he is. He hijacks Mary’s funeral as if he is the chief mourner even though his “affair” with Mary was a non-starter and he is the one who actually kills Leo Frank by ripping the small table Leo was standing on away during the lynching.

He is a very interesting challenge for a young actor.

Incidentally, there was a disgusting little redneck who became infamous the day after the lynching. He called himself Robert E. Lee Howell!

He was explicitly excluded from the lynching party as being too “lawless and violent”.

If you have a strong stomach, please read here what he did to Leo Frank’s corpse on the day after the hanging.

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