Saturday 18 November 2017

VP's chorus line of complaints at Broadway show

THE MESSAGE: Brandon Victor Dixon and the cast of 'Hamilton' address US VP-elect Mike Pence from the stage on Friday
THE MESSAGE: Brandon Victor Dixon and the cast of 'Hamilton' address US VP-elect Mike Pence from the stage on Friday

Mark Kennedy

US President-elect Donald Trump yesterday demanded an apology from the cast of the Broadway musical Hamilton, a day after an actor in the hit musical delivered a message about diversity to his running mate who was in the audience, prompting angry responses from liberals and conservatives alike and underscoring the fractious aftermath of the US elections.

The row began when US Vice President-elect Mike Pence went to Friday's performance of Hamilton. A mixture of boos and cheers could be heard as Pence took his seat. When the show ended, Pence was asked by a cast member to hear a prepared speech after the curtain call from the multicultural cast, saying it was concerned about the Trump administration.

"We, sir, are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights," said Brandon Victor Dixon, who plays Aaron Burr, the USA's third VP. "We hope this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us."

The unusual address quickly went viral - and Trump yesterday tweeted that it was "very rude," arguing that Pence was "harassed" and theatre "must always be a safe and special place." He urged the cast to apologise.

Dixon responded on Twitter that "conversation is not harassment sir" and added that he appreciated Pence stopping to listen.

Trump transition officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The show's Facebook page was inundated with comments and threats to not buy tickets to future performances. However Hamilton is currently sold out until September 2017.

The American Civil Liberties Union weighed in on the side of the Broadway cast, saying the First Amendment is a cornerstone of America "even if it sometimes makes our leaders uncomfortable."

"President-elect Trump needs a refresher on his high school civics class. Americans don't apologise - not even to presidents or VPs - for the lawful and proper exercise of their constitutional rights."

But a New Jersey man who was yesterday queueing to see the show's matinee performance said he understood why people would feel that actors lecturing the next VP from a Broadway stage were being somewhat impudent.

As for a boycott of the show, he didn't think that would fly.

"I don't think too many people who have spent the money for this show are going to boycott it just to make a protest statement."

Sunday Independent

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