The cast of “Hamilton” was not going to throw away its shot.
After Friday evening’s performance, at which Vice President-elect Mike Pence was in the audience, several dozen of the Broadway musical’s cast members zeroed in on Pence during their curtain call. Brandon Victor Dixon — the actor who played Aaron Burr — stepped forth and cut through the applause.
“You know, we have a guest in the audience this evening,” he said to audience laughter. “And 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. There’s nothing to boo here. We’re all here sharing a story of love. We have a message for you, sir. We hope that you will hear us out.”
As he pulled a small piece of paper from his pocket, Dixon encouraged people to record and share what he was about to say “because this message needs to be spread far and wide.”
Twitter exploded late Friday night with responses that cleaved into two camps: Those who cheered the cast for voicing their concerns so directly and those who found the exchange “rude.” In the latter was President-elect Donald Trump, who tweeted twice Saturday morning about Pence’s musical visit, saying that the cast had “harassed” the vice president-elect with “cameras blazing.”
“The Theater must always be a safe and special place,” Trump tweeted as a follow-up. “The cast of Hamilton was very rude last night to a very good man, Mike Pence. Apologize!”
By Saturday morning, #NameAPenceMusical and “The Cast Had Something to Say” were trending.
Though the Broadway cast’s message was directed broadly at what would be an administration under Trump’s presidency, Pence himself has a political track record that has been excoriated by the LGBT community. Last year, as governor of Indiana, Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act after the federal courts ruled that same-sex marriage bans in states were unconstitutional. Under the new state law, Indiana business owners could cite their religious beliefs if they didn’t want to participate in same-sex weddings. Opponents said it amounted to allowing discrimination based on sexual orientation. A week later, after facing boycotts and widespread condemnation from rights groups, Pence signed an amendment clarifying that the law could not be used to discriminate against the LGBT community.
He has a “0%” rating from the Human Rights Campaign, a nonprofit group that calls Pence “notoriously anti-LGBTQ” when he was chosen to be Trump’s running mate. Republican Chrys Kefalas outlined Pence’s anti-LGBT record in a guest column for The Washington Post:
During his public career, Pence has been an outspoken opponent of equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens. In Congress, he opposed efforts to encourage foreign governments to decriminalize homosexuality and sought to block the repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. As a governor, he stood against not only marriage equality, but civil unions as well. He also opposed a law prohibiting discrimination against LGBT people in the workplace and signed one opening the door to wide-ranging discrimination against these residents of his own state under the guise of religious liberty.
None of this was lost on the audience, who greeted Pence’s arrival to his prime orchestra seat with a mix of cheers and boos, according to the AP.
Mike Pence is a public figure. A I sincerely hope that the cast does not apologize for politely addressing their wishes. What would our founding fathers have done? Probably exactly what the cast of “Hamilton” did except not as politely. How dare Trump demand an apology?! The cast needs to send a BITE ME message.
When our artistic community is silenced, then we have lost our democracy.