Broadway ‘Parade’ Star Ben Platt Responds To Antisemitic Protesters: “Ugly And Scary But A Wonderful Reminder” Of The Need For This Musical

A small but vocally aggressive group of antisemitic protestors outside the Broadway venue housing the first preview of the revival Parade shouted slurs and decades-old accusations against the musical’s main character, Leo Frank.

Parade tells the based-on-fact story of the wrongly accused Frank, a Jewish man tried and eventually lynched in 1913 Georgia for the murder of 13-year-old Mary Phagan.

The protesters outside the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre on W. 45th Street last night resurrected some of the same accusations made against Frank in his day and against Jews yet today. In one cellphone video of the incident, a protesters can be heard loudly telling the lines of ticketbuyers, “Even in early 1900s Blacks and whites united to hang the Jew.”

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Other shouts reported included “[Leo Frank is] a Jewish Pedophile” and “Learn the truth about what you’re going to see tonight. You’re paying $300 to go f*cking worship a pedophile, you might as well know what you’re talking about.” Another protestor was heard saying, “Romanticizing pedophiles, Wow!”

Ben Platt, the Broadway star who portrays Frank in Parade, took to social media following the incident to address the matter. In two Instagram videos, an emotional Platt said he had just gotten home from the show feeling so proud of his cast and crew when he saw the socials media reports of the protestors. “Now that’s going to be the kind of stamp on the evening in terms of the public perceptions.”

“A really disgusting group saying antisemitic things about Leo Frank…it was very ugly and scary but a wonderful reminder of why we’re telling this particular story.” He added that he feels “extra extra grateful that I’m telling this story and carrying on the legacy of Leo.”

Platt also thanked the Jacobs theater staff and the Shubert Organization “for keeping us super secure, as you will be when you see the show.”

He encouraged his followers to “focus on the work, not the ugly actions of a few who are spreading evil.

The productions producers issued a statement of their own, writing, “If there is any remaining doubt out there about the urgency of telling this story in this moment in history, the vileness on display last night should put it to rest. We stand by the valiant Broadway cast that brings this vital story to life each night.”

The producer statement identified the protestors as the antisemitic, Neo-Nazi members The National Socialist movement.

Jake Wasserman, the Engagement Editor for The Forward, a leading source of news, opinion and culture through a Jewish lens since 1897, shared a video of protestors outside the theatre on Twitter (see it below).

Parade, which illustrates how the antisemitism prevalent in the South during the early 20th Century makes clear – just as history has done – that Frank was not guilty in the murder the girl and failed to received a fair trial due to his being Jewish.

The musical, written Jason Robert Brown (music and lyrics) and Alfred Uhry (book), was first performed in 1998 and won two Tony Awards.

See Platt’s video comments below.

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