‘Parade’ Producers Condemn Neo-Nazi Rally at Anti-Semitism Performance

Ben Platt, the show’s lead, said the “ugly and horrifying” display reminded him of why they’re recounting the story of the lynching of Leo Frank, a Jewish merchant in Georgia.

The creators and star of “Parade,” a Broadway musical about an anti-Semitic lynching in Georgia a century ago, have criticized a small neo-Nazi protest outside the show’s first preview performance on Tuesday night.

The plot revolves around Leo Frank, an Atlanta-based Jewish factory manager who was convicted in 1913 of raping and murdering a 13-year-old girl. In response to a public outcry over whether Frank had been wrongly convicted in an antisemitic trial, Georgia’s governor commuted his death sentence. Frank was lynched by a mob months later.

The Tony-winning actor who plays Frank, Ben Platt, has previously called the musical revival a crucial story to tell at a time when antisemitism and hate speech has been a part of political and cultural discourse in America.

However, the appearance of about a dozen demonstrators outside the Bernard B. Jacobs Theater, some holding a sign linking them to the National Socialist Movement, a neo-Nazi organization, underscored the show’s current cultural relevance, according to a statement released by the show’s producers on Wednesday morning.

“If there is any doubt left about the importance of recounting this narrative at this time in history, the vileness on the show last night should put it to rest,” the statement added. “We support the brave Broadway cast that brings this important narrative to life every night.”

Platt, who won a Tony for “Dear Evan Hansen” and also featured in last year’s limited run of “Parade” at New York City Center, said in an Instagram video after the show that he discovered about the protest on social media after he came offstage.

“That was absolutely really unpleasant and frightening, but it was also a fantastic reminder of why we’re telling this particular narrative,” Platt said.

Actors’ Equity Association, the union that represents Broadway actors and stage managers, also criticized the demonstration.

In a video shared to Twitter by a spectator, demonstrators can be seen and heard criticizing Frank and the Anti-Defamation League, a group combatting antisemitism created in the aftermath of Frank’s conviction. Several stood beside a flag promoting the National Socialist Movement. One masked protester distributed pamphlets promoting a separate group with neo-Nazi emblems, warning those outside the theatre that they were coming to “worship a pedophile.”

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The National Socialist Movement’s head, Burt Colucci, stated on Wednesday that local members of his party had participated in the march.

Frank’s conviction has come under additional scrutiny: he was granted a posthumous pardon in Georgia in the 1980s, and the district attorney in Fulton County formed a commission to reinvestigate the case in 2019.

“Parade” had a brief Broadway run in 1998 that was not financially successful, but the musical received Tony Awards for its book (by Alfred Uhry) and score (by Jason Robert Brown). It earned good reviews during its run last year, including from Juan A. Ramrez, who said in The New York Times that it was “the best-sung musical in many a New York season.”

The revival, directed by Michael Arden, will run until early August.

“Now is really the moment for this particular piece,” Platt said on his Instagram video, noting that he hoped the performance on Tuesday would make a more lasting impression than “the really ugly actions of a few people who were spreading evil.”