Coalition of Broadway Unions and Guilds Denounce Neo-Nazi Protestors Outside Musical About Lynched Jewish Businessman
by Shiryn Ghermezian
A coalition of 18 unions representing workers both on and off Broadway has condemned the antisemitic group of protesters who harassed theatergoers waiting in line to attend Tuesday’s preview performance of Parade, the revival of the acclaimed Broadway musical that tells the true story of a Jewish businessman Leo Frank who was lynched in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1915.
“Theater and the arts have the power to bring people together, promote empathy and understanding, and inspire each of us to make the world a better place,” the Coalition of Broadway Unions & Guilds (COBUG) said in a released statement. The group added that it “is united in its commitment to ensuring that members and audiences can enjoy the transformative power of the arts without fear of harassment or violence.”
COBUG Co-Chair Laura Penn, who is also executive director of Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, urged for New York City Mayor Eric Adams to get involved and ensure the safety of theater workers and guests. She said, “Antisemitism, vile hate speech, and censorship have no place on Broadway-or in American culture or society. COBUG calls on all members of the theatrical community, all people of conscience, and Mayor Eric Adams to safeguard inclusive environments for everyone who participates in or attends theatrical events in New York.”
Frank was convicted of the 1913 rape and murder of his female employee in Atlanta after facing a trial that was rippled with antisemitism. Flaws in his trial were ultimately exposed that supported Frank’s innocence and his death sentence was reduced to life in prison. But in 1915, a mob broke into his prison, kidnapped Frank and lynched him.
Patrons who were waiting outside the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre in New York City on Tuesday night ahead of the musical’s first preview performance were harassed by antisemitic protesters who distributed fliers that made mention of neo-Nazi and antisemitic hate groups.
The protesters chanted, “[Leo Frank is] a Jewish pedophile” and told theatergoers, “You want the truth about who you’re going to see tonight? You’re paying $300 to go f*** worship a pedophile, you might as well know what you’re talking about.” Another protester said, “Romanticizing pedophiles, wow, Leo Frank.”
Jewish actor Ben Platt, who takes on the lead role in the Broadway show, criticized the “ugly actions” of the protesters in a video he posted on social media and the producers of Parade released a statement about the incident on Tuesday night, saying in part, “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.”