Vice President-elect Mike Pence tried to take a break from the job of preparing the Donald Trump administration’s move into the White House by going to watch Hamilton on Friday night. But if Pence thought he was going to be able to go to the theater and pass by unnoticed, he was very much mistaken. Many in the crowd booed Pence when he arrived, although perhaps even more surprising is that some actually applauded and cheered for him, according to video posted on Twitter. Maybe it was his staff?
Pence’s presence didn’t go unnoticed by the cast either and at curtain call actor Brandon Victor Dixon, who plays Aaron Burr, delivered a message to Pence. “Vice President-elect Pence, I see you’re walking out, but I hope you will hear just a few more minutes,” he said before telling the audience “there’s nothing to boo here, ladies and gentlemen, we’re all sharing a story of love.” Pence had started to leave the theater but then reportedly turned and listened to Dixon’s entire message that he read from a piece of paper.
“We welcome you, and we truly thank you for joining us here at Hamilton: An American Musical—we really do,” he said. “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 that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values, and work on behalf of all of us.” He then went on: “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 later called for donations to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS (which is a tradition this time of year) and told the audience to resist the urge to be negative against Donald Trump or his 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.”
Dixon’s message was written by show creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, the director Thomas Kail, and lead producer Jeffrey Seller, reports the New York Times. “We had to ask ourselves, how do we cope with this?” Seller told the New York Times. “Our cast could barely go on stage the day after the election. The election was painful and crushing to all of us here. We all struggled with what was the appropriate and respectful and proper response. We are honored that Mr. Pence attended the show, and we had to use this opportunity to express our feelings.”
It wasn’t quite spur of the moment. Pence made a request to attend the performance earlier that same afternoon, Seller told the Hollywood Reporter. Rather than reject the request, the show decided to start working on the curtain call speech. “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,” Seller said. “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.”
The whole episode sparked a bit of a debate on social media as some said it was wrong to boo the vice president-elect while he was trying to take in a show.
Others took a more productive route and began suggesting plays that Pence could go watch next.
Update at 10:07 a.m.: President-elect Donald Trump took to Twitter Saturday morning to accuse the Hamilton cast of harassing Pence and demand an apology.