Outrage on Broadway as neo-Nazi group rallies outside Parade, musical …

Posted By on February 28, 2023

The theater world recoiled Wednesday after neo-Nazis held an antisemitic demonstration outside the first Broadway preview of a revival of Parade, a musical about an American Jew who was wrongfully convicted of murder and lynched a century ago.

About 12 protesters linked to the National Socialist Movement a prominent neo-Nazi group with half-century-old roots took part in the vile Tuesday night demonstration, said Rick Miramontez, a spokesman for the musical.

The Benjamin Jacobs Theatre on West 45th street where the production "Parade" is playing. (Sam Costanza/for New York Daily News)

In video published on social media, men held up a sign in red ink declaring, LEO FRANKLY WAS A PEDO, a reference to Leo Frank, the Georgia factory manager whose life and 1915 death are dramatized in the musical.

Producers of Parade, which is due to open March 16, issued a statement Wednesday deploring the protest.

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, they said.

In an Instagram video, Ben Platt, the star of Parade, described the demonstration as ugly and scary, but said it provided a wonderful reminder of why we are telling this particular story.

Ben Platt attends the Los Angeles premiere of Prime Video's "The People We Hate At The Wedding" at Regency Village Theatre on November 16, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images)

Platt said the theater staff had kept the cast and patrons supersafe and secure. Cops stood guard during the protest outside the Bernard Jacobs Theatre on W. 45th St.

The leader of the National Socialist Movement, Burt Colucci, said Wednesday afternoon that members of the New York chapter of his organization had planned the protest without his knowledge, but that he endorsed their actions.

I can confirm that there were definitely NSM members there, he said by phone. The New York unit took it upon themselves; I didnt find out until after the fact.

The group, once the largest neo-Nazi organization in the U.S., has been on the decline after participating in the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Miramontez, the spokesman for Parade, said he hopes the protest at the Jacobs Theatre was an isolated incident connected to the initial preview.

It was unclear if authorities had any advance notice about the demonstration. The NYPD said no arrests were made.

While Im grateful that the NYPD was present last night, were not going to just be able to police ourselves out of this, Mayor Adams said in a statement. Hate has no place in New York City, and so we must do everything in our power to stop the growing pipeline leading to it.

The protesters claimed that the show celebrates a pedophile.

The real-life, Brooklyn-raised Leo Frank was convicted in the murder of a 13-year-old who was found dead at a Georgia pencil factory. Some reports have said the girl was raped, though that point has been disputed.

Frank was killed by a lynch mob during a surge in antisemitic hate following his murder conviction. His death led to the creation of the Anti-Defamation League and a revival of the Ku Klux Klan.

In 1982, The Tennessean newspaper reported a sworn statement from a crucial witness who asserted that he had given false testimony and that Frank had not killed the girl, and that another man had.

In a Wednesday statement, the ADL said that 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.

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The Broadway League pledged in a statement to continue its work to ensure that theater is a safe and welcoming experience for all.

Now more than ever, the arts play a powerful role in creating community and bringing people together, the league said in the statement. The Broadway League stands firmly against antisemitism and all forms of harassment.

Rates of antisemitic hate crimes in the city have increased sharply recently, according to Police Department data. In November, cops in Penn Station arrested two men accused of plotting an attack on a synagogue.

Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine called the protest a really stark reminder of how far into the mainstream this once ultra-fringe element has come. We should not assume that it will stop at speech. We should be prepared for it to escalate, as too often it has.

The original Broadway production of Parade ran for more than 120 performances from 1998 to 1999, winning two Tony Awards best original score and best book of a musical and scoring nine nominations.

The Actors Equity Association, a labor union representing Broadway performers, said in a statement that Parade tells an important story of what happens when antisemitism and other kinds of hatred are allowed to grow unchecked.

We are proud of our members and their colleagues who are bringing this tragedy to life onstage, said the statement, and the presence of antisemitic protesters at their place of work only underlines how important that work is.


Outrage on Broadway as neo-Nazi group rallies outside Parade, musical ...

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