Ben Platt’s long-awaited return to Broadway got off to a troubling start this week when arriving theatergoers were accosted by members of a far-right neo-Nazi hate group.
A video posted to Twitter by journalist Jake Wasserman of The Forward shows a masked man representing the Nazi movement handing out anti-Semitic leaflets outside the Bernard B. Jacobs Theater in New York, where Platt is scheduled to start Tuesday’s previews of the Musical “Parade” began.
“You pay $300 to worship a pedophile,” says the unidentified man in the video. In the background, another person yells, “Romanticizing pedophiles, wow, Leo Frank.”
According to Playbill, the man was joined by a small but vocal group of protesters who carried handwritten signs with hateful, anti-Semitic rhetoric.
Written by Alfred Uhry and Jason Robert Brown, “Parade” is based on the life of Leo Frank (played by Platt), a Jewish man wrongly convicted of the 1913 rape and murder of a 13-year-old factory worker, Mary Phagan . Two years after his life sentence, Frank was kidnapped from a Georgia prison and hanged by a lynch mob. In 1986 he was posthumously pardoned.
Platt, who rose to fame in 2016 for his Tony-winning performance in Dear Evan Hansen, addressed the protest in a short video posted to his Instagram page.
“For those who don’t know, there were a couple of neo-Nazi protesters from a really disgusting group outside the theater who harassed some of our guests on their way in and said anti-Semitic things about Leo Frank, who the show is about . ‘ he said in the clip. “It was definitely very ugly and scary, but a wonderful reminder of why we are telling this special story and how special and powerful art and theater in particular can be. And I felt especially grateful to be the one who gets to tell this special story and carry on Leo’s legacy.”
After assuring fans who came to see “Parade” that they were “super safe and secure,” the actor added, “Now really is the moment for this special piece.”
On Wednesday, the show’s production team reiterated Platt’s views in a statement denouncing the “demonstrated meanness” outside of the theater last night.
“Parade” premiered on Broadway in 1998 and won two Tony Awards. The current production opened to rave reviews at the New York City Center in November last year before being confirmed for Broadway transfer in January.
According to Deadline, Telecharge’s ticketing site briefly crashed due to high demand for tickets. The musical will officially open on March 16th.