Ben Platt is speaking out against the antisemitic protestors at the first preview performance of Broadway’s revival of “Parade,” a musical about the true story of the false conviction and lynching of a Jewish man in 1915.
“For those who don’t know, there were a few neo-Nazi protesters from a really disgusting group outside of the theater, bothering some of our patrons on their way in and saying antisemitic things about Leo Frank, who the show is about, and just spreading antisemitic rhetoric that led to this whole story in the first place,” Platt said on Instagram.
In a video circulated on Twitter, people were gathered outside Broadway’s Bernard B. Jacobs Theater holding signs and calling Frank a “Jewish pedophile.” One person, reportedly a member of the neo-Nazi group The National Socialist Movement, is seen asking patrons, “You want the truth about who you’re going to see tonight? You’re paying $300 to go fucking worship a pedophile, you might as well know what you’re talking about.”
Platt thanked the theater workers for keeping audiences and show members “super safe and secure.” He went on to say the “vileness on display” underscores the importance of the revival. “Parade” dramatizes the life and death of Leo Frank, a Jewish factory owner who was falsely convicted of raping and murdering his 13-year-old employee Mary Phagan. He was sentenced to life in prison before he was kidnapped and lynched by an angry mob. The national attention of the case and the trial led to increased antisemitism, which galvanized the birth of the Anti-Defamation League while also activating a revival of the defunct KKK.
Platt continued, “It was definitely very ugly and scary but a wonderful reminder of why we’re telling this particular story and how special and powerful art and, particularly, theater can be. It just made me feel extra, extra grateful to be the one who gets to tell this particular story and to carry on this legacy of Leo.”
Producers of “Parade” issued a statement to denounce the protestors and support “the valiant Broadway cast that brings this vital story to life each night.”
“If there is any remaining doubt out there about the urgency of telling this story in this moment in history, the vileness on display in front of our theater last night should put it to rest,” producers said.
Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, also shared a statement on Wednesday morning, condemning the “vile antisemitism on full display.”
“The irony should not be lost on anyone that these antisemitic extremists decided to protest a play that details the true story of the lynching of an innocent Jewish man by an antisemitic mob, and used it as an opportunity to spread conspiracy theories and hate,” Greenblatt said. “ADL locks arms in solidarity with the entire cast and wants to especially thank the producers of the play and Ben Platt for their poignant statements speaking out in the face of hate. Despite the presence of a half-dozen neo-Nazis, New York City will continue to remain no place for hate.”
The Coalition of Broadway Unions and Guilds, the group that represents workers both on and off stage in New York State and beyond, similarly decried the actions of The National Socialist Movement.
“Antisemitism, vile hate speech, and censorship have no place on Broadway-or in American culture or society,” says COBUG co-chair and executive director Laura Penn.
“Parade” is returning to Broadway for the first time since it premiered in 1998. The revival, starring Platt and Micaela Diamond, began previews on Feb. 21 ahead of opening night on March 16.