Neo-Nazis Protest at Performance of Broadway Musical on Anti-Semitism
Audiences waiting to see the sold-out first preview of a classic Broadway musical on Tuesday were interrupted by neo-Nazi chants, holding banners and spreading misinformation about the show’s subject matter.
The group was identified by the producers of the musical as the National Socialist Movement. The group is the largest membership-based neo-Nazi group in the United States and is known for its “violent anti-Semitic rhetoric” and “racist views”. according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
A patron, who shared a brief video of the incident on Twittercalled the protest “absolutely wild” and “really scary”.
The musical “Parade” first appeared on Broadway in 1998 and is being revived at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theater in midtown Manhattan after an acclaimed concert production in 2022. It tells the true story of Leo Frank, a Jewish factory manager who was falsely accused of murdering a 13-year-old girl named Mary Phagan in Georgia in 1913. After Frank’s sentence was commuted, he was murdered by a lynching mob.
The trial, which historians say included false testimony, and anti-Semitic media coverage at the time led to the creation of the Anti-Defamation League, which still exists today. Frank was also granted a posthumous pardon in 1986, and the Georgia Historic Center erected a marker honoring Frank in 2008. In 2018, the first national anti-lynching memorial was placed at the site.
Members of the National Socialist Movement outside the theater claimed that Frank was a “paedophile” and criticized the ADL. Images of the protest on social media quickly went viral, sparking outrage online.
“If there is any doubt about the urgency of telling this story at this time in history, the nastiness on display last night should assuage it,” he added. the play’s producers said in a statement Wednesday. “We support the gallant Broadway cast who bring this vital story to life every night.”
Ben Platt, who plays Frank, said in a video message that the first look at the show was “so wonderful and special” until he saw videos showing the scene outside the theater.
“Naturally, the news that there were protesters on our show spread a lot, and that kind of (was) the hallmark of the evening, in terms of public perception of the evening,” said Platt, 29. Platt won a Tony Award in 2017 for his role in “Dear Evan Hansen.”
Platt said the group was “annoying some of our customers” and spreading “the anti-Semitic rhetoric that led to this whole thing in the first place.”
“If you don’t know, I encourage you to research the story and, most importantly, come see the show,” Platt said. “It was really, really ugly and scary, but a wonderful reminder of why we’re telling this particular story and how special and powerful art, and especially theater, can be in telling this particular story and carry on Leo’s legacy.”
Actors’ Equity Association, the national union that represents more than 51,000 professional actors and managers, also released a statement.
“‘Parade’ tells an important story of what happens when anti-Semitism and other types of hate are allowed to grow unchecked,” the union said. “We are proud of our members and their colleagues who bring this tragedy to life on stage, and the presence of anti-Semitic protesters in their workplaces only underscores the importance of this work. There is no room for hate on our streets or workplaces, and we condemn the protest in the strongest possible terms.”
Recent years have seen an upsurge in anti-Semitism in the United States. According to a survey by the American Jewish Committee, more than 80% of Jewish adults in the United States say that anti-Semitism has increased in the past five years. Two-thirds of Jewish adults surveyed said they had seen or been the target of anti-Semitic comments and threats online. And 43% of survey respondents said they consider anti-Semitism in the United States to be a “very serious problem.”