Ben Platt admits it’s a bit strange to be starring in a Broadway musical about anti-semitism during an upsurge of hate crimes against Jewish people.
“It’s sad but it’s also really galvanizing and motivating because it feels really immediate,” he told Page Six exclusively at the Broadway opening of the revival of “Parade” on Thursday night.
“Usually, when you do a revival, you can feel a bit of separation from it,” Platt, 29, continued, “but we have little to none, which is a difficult blessing.”
“Parade” tells the true story of Jewish factory worker Leo Frank — played by Platt — who was convicted in 1913 after being falsely accused of raping and murdering a 13-year-old girl.
Frank’s death sentence was commuted to life in prison by Gov. John M. Slaton in 1915 after he reviewed thousands of pages of testimony that seriously called into question Frank’s guilt. Frank was subsequently kidnapped from prison by a lynching party and hanged from an oak tree.
The musical was rocked during previews when a noisy group of neo-nazis, dubbed the National Socialist Movement, protested the show.
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“You want the truth about who you’re going to see tonight,” yelled one of the protesters in a video that was posted online. “You’re paying $300 to go f–king worship a pedophile, you might as well know what you’re talking about.”
“Romanticizing pedophiles, wow, Leo Frank,” shouted another.
Micaela Diamond, who plays Frank’s wife, Lucille, also spoke to Page Six about performing the show during these fraught times.
“I think Judaism is the oldest racism in the world and I think sometimes because of that we forget it’s still here, whether it’s right in front of us with neo-nazis protesting in front of our theater or lurking in the shadows, in which Jews are left out of the conversation.”
Diamond, 23, also noted that “it’s really special that we’re the first two Jewish people to play these roles because it’s so intrinsically a part of the story. I think it’s really important and I feel lucky that we were both cast.”
And Platt says that appearing in the show has deepened his connection to Judaism.
“I think it’s allowed me to embrace whatever Judaism means to me,” the “Politician” alum explained. “Sometimes we feel if we’re not observant or we don’t keep kosher or we haven’t been to shul in a while.
“That makes us disconnected from Judaism or not a good Jew or if the theology isn’t something you totally relate to all the time but for me, it’s come to be proud of the cultural and emotional and familial ways that I feel Jewish and embrace that.”