PARADE First Broadway Preview Theatregoers Taunted By Hate Group
It should’ve been a scene from some outdated play. In real life, Broadway audiences faced a threat outside the Jacobs Theatre as they headed inside for the first preview performance of Parade.
The group outside the theatre called themselves The National Socialist Movement, a neo-Nazi hate group according to social media posts, holding banners saying Leo Frank was a pedophile. Some will call them protestors and distractors, but make no mistake. These were neo-Nazis, a few hundred yards away from Times Square, spreading anti-Semitic messages. They also passed out pamphlets to people waiting to go inside.
Starring Ben Platt, the musical follows the story of Leo Frank, a Jewish factory manager who was accused of killing a 13-year-old girl and eventually lynched by a rogue gang. It’s a true story from 1913-1915 that rocked Georgia and has reverberated ever since, both due to the public’s eventual doubts about Frank’s guilt and the rise of anti-Semitic hate groups within America. Platt posted a message on his Instagram shortly after the performance.
“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,” said producers in a statement after the show. “We stand by the valiant Broadway cast that brings this vital story to life each night.”
At the height of the rally, approximately half-dozen members of the group were counted. By the time the performance ended, there were as few as none.
In addition to Platt as Leo, the musical stars Michaela Diamond as Lucille Frank, Alex Joseph Grayson as Jim Conley, Paul Alexander Nolan as Hugh Dorsey, Jay Armstrong Johnson as Britt Craig, Kelli Barrett as Mrs. Phagan, Courtnee Carter as Angela, Eddie Cooper as Newt Lee, Erin Rose Doyle as Mary Phagan, Douglas Lyons as Riley, Danielle Lee Greaves as Minnie McKnight, and Jake Pedersen as Frankie Epps, along with Tony nominees Sean Allan Krill as Governor Slaton, Howard McGillin as Old Soldier/Judge Roan, and Manoel Felciano as Tom Watson.
The cast is completed by Florrie Bagel as Nurse, Stacie Bono as Sally Slaton, Max Chernin as Mr. Turner, Emily Rose DeMartino as Essie & Others, Christopher Gurr as Luther Rosser/Mr. Peavy, Beth Kirkpatrick as Nina Formby, Ashlyn Maddox as Monteen & Others, Sophia Manicone as Iola Stover, William Michals as Detective Starnes, Jackson Teeley as Officer Ivey, and Charlie Webb as Young Soldier. Parade features 18 Broadway debuts.
Michael Arden directs the Seaview and Ambassador Theatre Group co-production, incorporating the true-crime courtroom drama aspects of the show by using trial photography and projections. It originally premiered at New York City Center in November 2022 as a gala presentation.
Theatrely stands with anyone impacted, directly or indirectly, from these events. To report a crime, call 911 immediately. Individuals can also call 877-NO-HATE-NY to provide any tips relating to hate crimes.
(Updated 2/22/23 with a statement from the show)