Monday 5 December 2016

There is nothing to apologise for, says Hamilton actor after message to Pence

Published 21/11/2016 | 14:36

People line up to see the Broadway play Hamilton (AP)
People line up to see the Broadway play Hamilton (AP)

An actor in the Broadway musical Hamilton who delivered a pointed message about diversity to Vice President-elect Mike Pence as he watched the show has rejected Donald Trump's demand for an apology.

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Brandon Victor Dixon, who plays Aaron Burr in the celebrated musical, told a US TV network that "there's nothing to apologise for".

Dixon gave Mr Pence an onstage earful about equality at the end of Friday's performance, prompting Mr Trump to take to Twitter to demand an apology.

The actor said Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda had a hand in crafting his remarks, although Dixon said he "made some adjustments".

Dixon said that both Mr Trump and Mr Pence are welcome to come backstage and meet the cast at any time, adding: "Art is meant to bring people together."

In his message on Friday, Dixon expressed his concerns in a prepared speech after the curtain call about the incoming Republican 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 as his fellow actors joined hands.

"We truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us."

Mr Pence said on Sunday that he heard the boos and cheers when he walked into the Richard Rodgers Theatre with his nephew and daughter on Friday night to see the show.

He said he told his daughter: "That's what freedom sounds like."

Mr Trump tweeted on Saturday that Mr Pence had been "harassed" by the cast.

He called them "very rude" and demanded they apologise.

On Sunday, he repeated his order for an apology - and added a dig at the critically acclaimed show, which is sold out until September.

"The cast and producers of Hamilton, which I hear is highly overrated, should immediately apologize to Mike Pence for their terrible behavior," he tweeted.

But Mr Pence told Fox News that Hamilton was an "incredible production" involving a very talented cast.

On whether he thought an apology was necessary, he said: "I'll leave it to others whether that was the appropriate venue to say it."

When prompted by Mr Trump for an apology, Dixon responded on Twitter that "conversation is not harassment sir" and added that he appreciated Mr Pence stopping to listen.

Reaction was mixed, with some calling Dixon's speech "disrespectful" and threatening to boycott the show and others saying it was an important message that needed to be delivered.

The musical by Miranda, who wrote the story, music and lyrics, stresses the orphan, immigrant roots of first US treasury secretary Alexander Hamilton and has a varied score, ranging from pop ballads to gospel to R&B.

It has been cheered for reclaiming the nation's founding story with 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 theatre.

Miranda had been a big supporter for the failed presidential campaign of Mr Trump's opponent, Democrat 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.

AP

Press Association

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