“Parade,” book by Alfred Uhry and music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown, is a Broadway musical about the 1913 trial and the 1915 lynching of a Jewish man named Leo Frank in Georgia. On Tuesday night, just before its first preview show, a group of Neo-Nazis protested outside of the Jacobs Theatre with hateful hand-written signs, shouted at the line of theatre-goers, and tried to force on them antisemitic flyers.
The National Socialist Movement, a neo-Nazi hate group, is protesting outside of the Broadway revival of “Parade,” stating that Leo Frank, the subject of the musical, was a pedophile. pic.twitter.com/wbGMjRubZL
— Jake Wasserman (@jacobhwasserman) February 22, 2023
The musical is based on the 1913 trial of a Jewish factory manager named Leo Frank, who was accused and convicted of raping and murdering a thirteen-year-old employee named Mary Phagan. The trial aroused antisemitic tensions in Atlanta and Georgia, and after Frank’s death sentence was commuted to life in prison by the Governor in 1915 (due to “problems” with the trial), Frank was transferred to a prison in Milledgeville, Georgia, where a lynching party captured and hanged him from an oak tree.
The Nazis protested the show for claiming Frank’s innocence. Their flyers also attacked the Anti-Defamation League, which was founded in response to Frank’s murder. Funny note: the KKK, which had been dormant since the Jim Crow era, was revived following the same event.
Ben Platt, who plays Frank in the musical, said on Instagram: “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, theatre can be. 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.”
Platt added: “I just think that now is really the moment for this particular piece. 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.”
The show’s producers issued a statement to People magazine, 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 tonight should put it to rest.”