NEW YORK - It took a couple of decades to get Arthur Miller's classic play "All My Sons" back on Broadway, but on Thursday night the highly-anticipated revival opened at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre in Midtown.
The high-concept performance features an all-star cast which includes John Lithgow, Dianne Wiest, Katie Holmes and Patrick Wilson. Holmes, whose been the subject of much pre-opening interest, is making her Broadway debut in the classic play directed by Simon McBurney.
"Scientology kills," was just one of the many chants yelled by anti-Scientology protestors demonstrating just 100 feet away from the doors of the Schoenfeld Theater on 45th Street.
"We're here to shed light on the human rights abuses perpetrated by the church of Scientology against it's parishoners," said Matthew Danziger with the anti-Scientology group Anonymous. "The celebrities in the church are completely unaware of the crimes that happen behind closed doors."
Holmes, along with husband Tom Cruise have often been targeted by the group because of their affiliation with the Church of Scientology. The claims the group have made against the church are unfounded, according to Tommy Davis of the Church of Scientology International.
"Despite [their] false pronouncements of altruism, the fact remains that tonight members of Anonymous stood in front of someone's place of employment and protested an individual's religious beliefs," Davis said in an e-mail to WPIX-TV. "That is inexcusable. And above all, why give it credence and potentially mar the opening night of a production that represents the hard work of a number of great artists? It is disrespectful to all those concerned," he said.
With a slew of media outlets working the red carpet for the star studded premiere, reporters found themselves moving back and forth from the theater to the barricaded protestors. By the end of the night, it was clear the demonstrators stole much of the thunder from Ms. Holmes' much-hyped Broadway debut.
The group claims they do not mean any harm by their protests. In fact, one protestor who did not want to be identified said Anonymous is actually concerned for Holmes' safety, suggesting she is being held by the church against her own will.
"We're here to show her that there are those outside the church who believe she could leave of her own accord," he told WPIX-TV.
But according to Davis, "New York-based members of Anonymous issued threats of violence in reference to [Thursday's] opening of 'All My Sons.' Apparently the threats included use of weapons and explosives, and were immediately made known to law enforcement.
Despite the alleged threats, the group was granted an NYPD permit for their evening protest outside the theater. Nearly 30 police officers were seen patrolling the busy sidewalk.
"All My Sons" will run through January 11, 2009.