Ben Platt shares video after neo-Nazi protesters ‘spread evil’ outside Broadway musical Parade

Ben Platt has shared a message with fans after the first preview of his Broadway musical Parade was attended by antisemitic protesters.

The Dear Evan Hansen star is currently appearing in the Broadway revival of Parade, a musical telling the true story of Leo Frank, a Jewish man who died in 1915 after being lynched by a mob.

The show began previews on Monday (21 February) night at the Bernard B Jacobs Theatre.

However, outside the event, neo-Nazi protesters gathered, with one clip shared on Twitter showing a masked man attempted to hand leaflets to ticketholders while telling them they were “paying $300 to go f***ing worship a paedophile”.

Other images shared online showed signs calling Frank a “Jewish paedophile”.

Following the performance, Platt shared his own video to social media, explaining that he’d “felt compelled” to share his “two cents” after such a “wonderful and special” first preview performance.

“Then I got off stage and was looking at social media, and naturally the news of the fact that there were some protesters at our show has spread a lot, and that’s kind of the stamp on the evening, in terms of the public perception of the evening,” he said, adding: “Definitely an important thing to hear about.

“For those who don’t know, there were a few neo-Nazi protesters from a really disgusting group outside of the theatre, bothering some of our patrons on their way in and saying antisemitic things about Leo Frank, who the show is about, and just spreading antisemitic rhetoric that led to this whole story in the first place.

“If you don’t know about it, I encourage you to look up the story and most importantly encourage you to come see the show.”

Platt continued: “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. [It] just made me feel extra, extra grateful to be the one who gets to tell this particular story and to carry on this legacy of Leo.”

Platt thanked the theatre staff for making sure the cast and audience were who “super safe and secure, as you will be when you come see the show”, before saying that he wanted to focus on the show’s message and not “the ugly actions of a few people who are spreading evil”.

Micaela Diamond and Ben Platt in ‘Parade' (Joan Marcus)
Micaela Diamond and Ben Platt in ‘Parade' (Joan Marcus)

“Now is really the moment for this particular piece,” he said.

In a statement shared with People, the show’s producers said: “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.”

Written by Alfred Uhry and Jason Robert Brown, 1998 musical Parade follows the life of factory superintendent Frank, who was convicted in 1913 of the rape and murder of a 13-year-old female employee. Two years later, a mob kidnapped Frank from prison and lynched him.

Historians widely agree that Frank was falsely convicted, with his case encouraging the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan and the Anti Defamation League. In 1986, he was posthumously pardoned of the crime.