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Ben Platt Condemns Antisemitic Protesters at ‘Parade’ on Broadway for ‘Spreading Evil’

todayFebruary 22, 2023

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While it’s said that art imitates life, Ben Platt learned all too well recently that life also tends to imitate art.


In an Instagram Reel posted late Tuesday night (Feb. 21), Platt spoke out about a group of neo-Nazi, antisemitic protesters who appeared outside the Jacobs Theater for opening night of previews for Parade on Broadway.

After taking a moment to congratulate the cast and crew on an “amazing” opening night, Platt addressed the protests outside the show. “There were a few neo-Nazi protestors from a really disgusting group outside of the theater … saying antisemitic things about Leo Frank, who the show is about, and spreading the antisemitic rhetoric that led to this whole story in the first place,” he said.

Parade centers around the true story of Frank, a Jewish factory worker who was wrongly convicted of murder in 1913. After his sentence was later commuted, Frank was lynched by an antisemitic mob in 1915. Frank’s trial and eventual murder gave rise to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), now one of the largest Jewish civil rights organizations in America.

Video clips posted to Twitter by The Forward editor Jake Wasserman show protestors from the National Socialist Movement (an antisemitic hate group, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center) standing outside the theater on Tuesday with banners referring to Frank as a “pedophile.” Claims like these are part of a continued effort by antisemitic hate groups to implicate Frank in the murder of Mary Phagan, despite historical consensus that he was innocent.

Platt said that the protests were “definitely very ugly and scary,” but focused instead on the importance of Frank’s story. “It was a wonderful reminder of why we’re telling this particular story, and how special and powerful art and especially theater can be,” he said. “I wanted the button on this evening, at least for me personally, to be to celebrate what a beautiful experience [the show] is and what gorgeous work all of my wonderful colleagues did tonight, not the really ugly actions of a few people who are spreading evil.”

The producers of Parade also chimed in online, saying, “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.”

Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of ADL, called the protests an example of “vile antisemitism” that highlights “the importance of telling Leo Frank’s story” in a statement to Billboard. “The irony should not be lost on anyone that these antisemitic extremists decided to protest a play that details the true story of the lynching of an innocent Jewish man by an antisemitic mob, and used it as an opportunity to spread conspiracy theories and hate,” he wrote. “ADL locks arms in solidarity with the entire cast and wants to especially thank the producers of the play and Ben Platt for their poignant statements speaking out in the face of hate. Despite the presence of a half-dozen neo-Nazis, New York City will continue to remain no place for hate.”

See Platt’s full video below:

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