Ben Platt is speaking out against the antisemitic protestors outside the first preview performance of Broadway’s revival of “Parade,” a musical based on the true story of Leo Frank, a Jewish man who was falsely convicted of rape and murder in 1913, and eventually lynched in 1915 after being sentenced to life in prison.
In 1986, Frank was posthumously pardoned by the Georgia State Board of Pardons, but not officially absolved of the crime. The investigation was reopened in 2019, though the national attention of the case and trial led to the formation of the Anti-Defamation League as well as the resurgence of the KKK.
“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, who stars in the lead role as Frank, said in an Instagram video Tuesday.
Many protestors held signs and harassed patrons outside the theater. A member of the neo-Nazi group The National Socialist Movement was also seen telling patrons, “You want the truth about who you’re going to see tonight? You’re paying $300 to go f–ing worship a pedophile, you might as well know what you’re talking about,” according to videos on social media.
Platt said that though the first show—which is returning to Broadway for the first time since it premiered in 1998—was “special,” it was undermined by the protestors.
He continued: “If you don’t know about it, I encourage you to look up the story and most importantly encourage you to come see the show, and 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. And 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.”
Platt also thanked the theater works for keeping audiences and show members “super safe and secure” during the protests.
Producers of “Parade” issued a statement Tuesday, saying “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. We stand by the valiant Broadway cast that brings this vital story to life each night.”
The revival of “Parade” began previews on Feb. 21 ahead of opening night on March 16.