The stars and producers of Parade spoke out against a neo-Nazi protest of the show outside the theater venue after the protest went viral online.
Parade, the Broadway revival of the 1998 Tony Award-winning musical that stars Ben Platt and Micaela Diamond, is centered around Leo Frank (Platt), a Jewish American manager of a pencil factory in Atlanta who was convicted of raping and murdering a 13-year-old girl, and who is later kidnapped from prison and lynched when his death sentence is reduced to life in prison. Present throughout the show is the antisemitism that was present throughout both Frank’s trial and the show’s setting of 1910s Atlanta. (Decades later, the state of Georgia would award Frank a posthumous pardon.)
The first preview of the Parade revival took place in Times Square Tuesday night. But the preview was marred by neo-Nazi protesters who gathered outside the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, holding signs and handing out flyers to passersby about Frank. The movement’s attempt to reframe Frank’s wrongful conviction has been ongoing for years.
Online, people immediately condemned the protest while noting the relevancy of Frank’s story to the protests it sparked.
After Tuesday’s show, Platt posted a video to Instagram Reels praising the cast and crew for their performance while speaking out against the protesters.
“For those who don’t know, there were a few neo-Nazi protestors from a really disgusting group outside of the theatre, 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…” he said. “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 that gets to tell this particular story and to carry on this legacy of Leo.”
Diamond posted about the incident on Instagram Stories to add her own condemnation, adding that the show’s company learned about the protests shortly before the show started and then went onstage.
“massive celebration and raging disappointment,” she wrote. “what a reminder of how important this story is. I can’t wait to tell it again and again. We will speak for you, leo.”
On Wednesday morning, the show’s producers also condemned the protests while highlighting that this moment was why Parade was so vital.
“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,” their statement read. “We stand by the valiant Broadway cast that brings this vital story to life each night.”
Parade officially opens on Broadway on March 16.