'Hamilton' Broadway Cast Addresses Mike Pence in Audience: "Work on Behalf of All of Us"
"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, sir. But we truly hope this show has inspired you to uphold our American values."
Hamilton did not throw away its shot at Mike Pence.
During Friday night's curtain call at the Richard Rodgers Theatre, the Broadway cast addressed the presence of the vice president-elect, who was heavily booed by the audience upon entry.
"Vice president-elect, I see you walking out, but I hope you will hear us," said Brandon Victor Dixon, who plays Aaron Burr. He also told the audience, "There's nothing to boo here; we're all sharing a story of love."
"We welcome you, and we truly thank you for joining us here at Hamilton: An American Musical — we really do," he continued. "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, sir. But we truly hope this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and work on behalf of all of us."
"We truly thank you for sharing this show, this wonderful American story told by a diverse group of men and women of different colors, creeds and orientations," Dixon concluded to Pence.
After calling for donations to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS (an annual tradition of all Broadway shows' curtain calls during this time of year), the actor also urged the audience not to be negative toward Pence and Trump supporters. "We don't have to fight one another. The beautiful part of this country is ... we don't have to agree, but we gotta live here, baby, and share with one another."
The production received Pence's request to attend the night's performance earlier that afternoon, producer Jeffrey Seller told The Hollywood Reporter after the show. Rather than rejecting his request, the show — which has participated in multiple Democratic fundraisers throughout the presidential-election season and held weekly voter-registration drives outside the theater — opted for the unique curtain call. Seller said the statement was written with creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, director Tommy Kail and the cast at large.
"The cast, the creators, we all felt that we must express our feelings to Vice President-elect Pence. This is not a normal time, this is not a normal election. This has not been a normal result. And in a democracy, one must let his and her voice be heard, and we were not going to the show tonight without expressing how we feel," said Seller. "Everybody should be able to see this show, regardless of their politics, but it does just so happen that the politics of this administration have been so negative toward minorities, people of color, gay people that we felt the need to speak up. As a cast comprised of minorities, women, gay people, it was necessary. We had to speak. We had to express how we feel."
Pence is known for his anti-gay legislation, which was criticized by several fans and theatergoers as they learned he was attending the show. Both Rory O'Malley, who plays King George, and Javier Munoz, who now plays Alexander Hamilton, are openly gay and involved in LGBT advocacy. As governor of Indiana, Pence opposed gay marriage, signing into law a bill that made it legal for business owners to refuse service to LGBT customers, citing religious freedom. He is also known for supporting "conversion therapy."
Will Pence's mind be changed by the show? "I would always like to think that a show this powerful has the potential to affect each and every audience member, including Mike Pence." said Seller. "And we would welcome President-elect Donald Trump and hope that our show has an impact on him."
With a slew of security stationed outside and seated around Pence in the center of the house, the show went on without interruption. Pence left the house during intermission and wasn't escorted back to his seat until after intermission ended, during the middle of "What'd I Miss?"
But O'Malley addressed Pence's presence during the number "What Comes Next?" gesturing toward his seat during the line "You're all alone." As King George, he stopped the show with his lines, "It's harder when it's your call," and, "When people say they hate you, don't come crawling back to me."
Because Pence was in the audience, many lines landed quite differently. In addition to the standing ovation given to the well-known line "Immigrants, we get the job done," George Washington's remark "Winning is easy, young man, governing's harder" also got notable applause, as did Alexander Hamilton's jab about the then-vice president: "John Adams doesn't have a real job, anyway." And a big gasp of the night came when Washington hailed Hamilton over at the end of "Cabinet Battle #2," when Thomas Jefferson notes, "Daddy's calling," as audience members found themselves thinking of Pence's relationship to Trump.
"Everyone's looking for a distraction, and he shows up!" said one ticket-holder. "I give the actors credit for pulling it together and keeping the show going." Another added, "He's sitting so close to me: My blood started boiling when I saw him. But I won't let it ruin the show."
Trump took to Twitter on Saturday morning to slam the cast's statement. "Our wonderful future V.P. Mike Pence was harassed last night at the theater by the cast of Hamilton, cameras blazing. This should not happen!" he said. "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 later responded to Trump, tweeting, "Conversation is not harassment sir. And I appreciate Mike Pence for stopping to listen."
Our wonderful future V.P. Mike Pence was harassed last night at the theater by the cast of Hamilton, cameras blazing.This should not happen!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 19, 2016
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!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 19, 2016
#BoycottHamilton also became the top trending topic on the social media platform (though some pointed out that the show is sold out for the foreseeable future).
Meanwhile, Miranda expressed his pride in his cast: "Proud of Hamilton. Proud of Brandon Victor Dixon, for leading with love. And proud to remind you that ALL are welcome at the theater."
And overnight, Twitter users delighted in the entire situation with the trending hashtag #NameAPenceMusical.
Annie Get Your Gun Without A Background Check #NameAPenceMusical— Wendy (@Wendyreads2live) November 19, 2016
My Fair Lady (Has No Right To Choose) #NameAPenceMusical— Cee (@seajaypea) November 19, 2016
Anything Goes...If You're White, Male, Cisgender, Straight, And Christian. #NameAPenceMusical— Jeffrey Bryson (@jwalkerbryson) November 19, 2016
"Rent: But Not to Those People" #NameaPenceMusical— Jennifer Weiner (@jenniferweiner) November 19, 2016
Sunday in the Park with George Wallace #NameAPenceMusical— Andrew Keenan-Bolger (@KeenanBlogger) November 19, 2016
#NameAPenceMusical Snow White and the Seven Clansman— Norm Clark (@Normsmusic) November 19, 2016
Springtime for Bannon. #NameAPenceMusical— Steve Silberman (@stevesilberman) November 19, 2016
#NameAPenceMusical Bigot and the Beast— Shelley™️ (@Shelster011) November 19, 2016
Nov. 19, 7 a.m. Updated with tweets from Trump and Miranda, as well as the trending topic.