NEW YORK (AP) — President-elect Donald Trump on Saturday demanded an apology from the “Hamilton” cast member who gave Mike Pence an onstage earful about equality.
After curtain call Friday night, actor Brandon Victor Dixon addressed the Republican vice president-elect, saying the Broadway hit’s multiracial and multicultural cast is concerned about the Trump administration.
“We, sir, we are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights,” said Dixon, who plays Aaron Burr, the nation’s third vice president. “We truly hope this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and work on behalf of all of us. All of us.”
Pence ducked out before Dixon finished the unprecedented message but heard the full remarks from the hallway outside the auditorium.
“Our wonderful future V.P. Mike Pence was harassed last night at the theater by the cast of Hamilton, cameras blazing,” the Republican Trump tweeted Saturday. “The theater must always be a safe and special place. The cast of Hamilton was very rude last night to a very good man, Mike Pence. Apologize!”
Dixon tweeted at Trump saying “conversation is not harassment sir” while adding that he appreciates Pence stopping to listen.
The atmosphere was tense from the time Pence arrived at the Richard Rodgers Theatre, triggering both cheers and boos as he slipped into the prime orchestra seats. After the curtain-call, Dixon called Pence out from the stage, with the cast behind him.
“Vice President-elect Pence, I see you walking out, but I hope you will hear us, just a few more moments. There’s nothing to boo here, ladies and gentlemen,” Dixon said. “We’re all here sharing a story about love.”
Outside, many protesters jeered, including one woman who held up a sign with a line from the musical that always gets a cheer: “Immigrants, we get the job done.” Dixon’s speech, which ended with a plea to donate to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, brought down the house.
The next morning, the show’s official Facebook page was inundated with comments ranging from calling Dixon’s speech “disrespectful” ”inappropriate” and “uncalled for.” Many threatened to not buy tickets to future performances. Tickets for the show are not available for another year; “Hamilton” is sold out through September 2017.
The hit, which won 11 Tony Awards, has been praised by politicians and rap stars alike, influenced the debate over the nation’s currency and burst through the Broadway bubble like none other.
The first family has been big boosters of the show. President Barack Obama took daughters Sasha and Malia to see it last year after first lady Michelle Obama caught it last spring. Vice President Joe Biden also has seen it.
The show is by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote the musical’s book, music and lyrics. It stresses the orphan, immigrant roots of Alexander Hamilton and has a terrifically varied score, ranging from pop ballads to gospel to sexy R&B. It has been cheered for reclaiming the nation’s founding story by a multicultural cast.
Miranda, in a tweet, said he was “proud” of Dixon and the “Hamilton” cast “for leading with love,” before reminding people that everyone is welcome at the theater.
Miranda had been a big booster for the failed presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton, including performing at an all-star fundraiser for her last month. The cast also put on a special “Hamilton” show at a Clinton fundraiser last summer.
The Alexander Hamilton that Pence saw was Javier Munoz, an openly gay actor. Pence supported numerous efforts to ban gay marriage as governor of Indiana and opposed unfettered federal funding for HIV and AIDS treatment.
After Pence left, Jeffrey Seller, the show’s lead producer, said he hopes the politician would share the show’s message of empathy: “I hope that maybe it inspires him to feel for those not like him.”
Seller, a Tony Award winner who has produced such shows as “Rent” and “Avenue Q,” said such notable Republicans as former Vice President Dick Cheney and presidential speechwriter Peggy Noonan have come to “Hamilton.”
“This show is absolutely for Republicans as well as Democrats, and we would like to host any Republican who would like to see the show,” he said.
Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits.