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Ben Platt Blasts Neo-Nazis Protesting His Broadway Show Parade

Ben Platt Blasts Neo-Nazis Protesting His Broadway Show Parade

Micaela Diamond and Ben Platt in 'Parade'
Photo by Bruce Glikas/WireImage

A hate group demonstrated and handed out flyers at Parade, about the lynching of a Jewish man in Georgia.

Neo-Nazis protested at Tuesday night’s Broadway performance of Parade, a musical about the effects of anti-Semitism — and star Ben Platt has responded.

The demonstrators carried signs bearing “hateful rhetoric” and tried to distribute flyers to patrons of the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, where the revival of Parade was having its first preview performance, Playbill reports. They were affiliated with a far-right white supremacist group called the National Socialist Movement. Police were called to protect theater patrons and workers.

The show is about the lynching of Jewish factory manager Leo Frank, played by Platt, in Georgia in 1915. Frank was convicted of raping and murdering 13-year-old factory worker Mary Phagan two years earlier, but he maintained he was innocent. He was sentenced to life in prison, but a mob kidnapped and killed him. After Frank’s death, it emerged that another worker at the plant, Jim Conley, had killed Phagan. Frank’s murderers were never prosecuted, but he was posthumously pardoned.

The neo-Nazi protesters claimed Frank was guilty and called him a pedophile. They also denounced the Anti-Defamation League, which was founded after Frank’s murder to fight anti-Semitism.

Platt, a gay man who has described himself as “culturally Jewish,” responded in an Instagram video recorded at his home after the performance. “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,” said Platt, a Tony Award winner for Dear Evan Hansen. “And it made me feel extra, extra grateful to be the one to get to tell this particular story and to carry on the legacy of Leo.”

“I just think that now is really the moment for this particular piece,” he continued. “I wanted the button on the evening, at least for me personally, to be to celebrate what a beautiful experience it is and what gorgeous work all my wonderful colleagues did tonight. Not the really ugly actions of a few people who are spreading evil.”

He urged theater fans to see the show and thanked the staff at the Jacobs Theatre and others for keeping everyone safe.

Others responding included Parade’s producers, who issued this statement: “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.”

Cast member Prentiss E. Mouton commented via his Instagram story, saying, “Are you really doing the real work of an artist if you aren’t be[ing] protested by Neo-Nazis? If I wasn’t proud enough to be a part of this production, it was solidified today.”

Another cast member, Douglas Lyons, posted on Instagram, “to the Nazis who protested our beautiful show with hatred directly outside our dressing rooms, fear don’t work here, baby. We gon tell the story and we gon tell it with conviction.”

Parade had a brief run on Broadway in 1998 and won Tony Awards for its book by Alfred Uhry and score by Jason Robert Brown. Prior to the Broadway revival, it had a limited number of performances at New York City Center, also with Platt portraying Frank. The Broadway revival is scheduled for performances through August.

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