'Parade' producers condemn neo-Nazi protest at show about antisemitism

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'Parade' producers condemn neo-Nazi protest at show about antisemitism
Ben Platt, right, as Leo Frank and Micaela Diamond as Lucille Frank in a revival of the 1998 musical “Parade” at New York City Center, Oct. 31, 2022. The producers and star of “Parade,” a Broadway musical about an antisemitic lynching in Georgia a century ago, condemned a small neo-Nazi demonstration that took place outside the show’s first preview performance on Tuesday Feb. 22. (Sara Krulwich/The New York Times)

by Julia Jacobs



NEW YORK, NY.- The producers and star of “Parade,” a Broadway musical about an antisemitic lynching in Georgia a century ago, condemned a small neo-Nazi demonstration that took place outside the show’s first preview performance Tuesday night.

The show centers on the story of Leo Frank, a Jewish factory manager in Atlanta who was convicted in 1913 of raping and murdering a 13-year-old girl. Responding to an outcry about whether Frank had been wrongfully convicted in a trial tainted by antisemitism, the Georgia governor commuted his death sentence. Months later, Frank was lynched by a mob.

Ben Platt, the Tony-winning actor who plays Frank, had described the musical revival as a timely story to tell at a moment when antisemitic incidents and hate speech have been a part of political and cultural conversations in America.

But 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, further underlined the current cultural relevance, the show’s producers said in a statement Wednesday morning.

“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,” the statement said. “We stand by the valiant Broadway cast that brings this vital story to life each night.”

Platt, who won a Tony for “Dear Evan Hansen” and appeared in last year’s brief run of “Parade” at New York City Center, learned about the demonstration on social media after he stepped offstage Tuesday, he said in an Instagram video after the show.

“It was definitely very ugly and scary, but a wonderful reminder of why we’re telling this particular story,” Platt said.

The demonstration was also condemned by Actors’ Equity Association, the union representing Broadway actors and stage managers.

In a video recorded by a bystander that was posted to Twitter, demonstrators are seen and heard targeting Frank and the Anti-Defamation League, a group fighting antisemitism that was founded in the aftermath of Frank’s conviction. Some of them stood by a banner advertising the National Socialist Movement. One masked protester handed out flyers that promoted a separate group with neo-Nazi symbols and told people outside the theater that they were about to “worship a pedophile.”

Burt Colucci, leader of the National Socialist Movement, confirmed Wednesday that local members of his organization had been involved in the demonstration.

Frank’s conviction has been the subject of renewed scrutiny: In the 1980s, he received a posthumous pardon in Georgia, and in 2019, the district attorney in Fulton County created a panel to reinvestigate the case.

“Parade” had a brief initial run on Broadway in 1998 that was not a commercial success, but the musical won Tony Awards for its book (by Alfred Uhry) and score (by Jason Robert Brown). Its run last year received positive reviews, including from Juan A. Ramírez, 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, is scheduled to run through early August.

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

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.










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