The results from this past election brought upon many feelings that are being expressed in numerous ways all across our country. There have been countless protests, but just as many celebration parties. The biggest surprise here is that not many people would’ve guessed that a Broadway stage would yield arguably the most publicized dispute yet.
On the Friday before Thanksgiving, Vice President-elect Mike Pence attended the incredibly popular musical Hamilton
with his family. He was greeted with mixed reviews upon arrival, but the boos were significantly stronger from the cheers and claps.
The show’s success on the Broadway stage, which is seen in the sixteen nominations and eleven wins at the 2016 Tony Awards, can be accredited to many things. It particularly prides itself on a diverse cast. For example, many of the Founding Fathers are portrayed by actors who are people of color. Another thing that makes the show a highlight on Broadway is its unconventional approach to the explanation of history.
After the show’s conclusion that night, the actors and actresses gathered on stage. Leading man Brandon Victor Dixon, who portrays Aaron Burr in the musical, addressed Pence’s presence and thanked him for his attendance before reading off a short speech. Dixon began by saying, “Vice President-elect Pence, we welcome you and we truly thank you for joining us here at Hamilton an American Musical
, we really do.”
Pence had reportedly already left the theater and was standing out in the lobby, though he apparently heard the entirety of the speech. “We sir, are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or uphold us and defend our inalienable rights,” Dixon said, referring to the piece of paper in his hand for a fair amount of the remarks.
Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator and lead writer of Hamilton
, is credited with writing much of the speech. The majority of the audience sided with Dixon, applauding frequently. The actor continued with, “But we truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us. All of us. Again, we truly thank you for attending this show. This wonderful American story told by a diverse group of men (and) women of different colors, creeds, and orientations.”
Pence had no response directly after the show’s end, but his running mate did. President-elect Donald Trump took to Twitter in addressing the occurrence at the theater. “The cast of Hamilton
was very rude last night to a very good man, Mike Pence…” Trump stated in his first of multiple tweets.
He then demanded that Hamilton’s
cast and crew apologize. The President-elect refused to drop the situation there, as he claimed Pence was “harassed…cameras blazing…”.
Brandon Dixon, along with other cast and crew from the show, responded with a few tweets of their own.
Trump ultimately went as far as calling the show “highly overrated”, which spawned a fair uproar from fans. The mixed reaction from the public to the situation showed the political divide in the country at this point in time. While some sided with the cast of Hamilton
, claiming that actors exercised their right to freedom of speech, others disagreed. In fact, Trump supporters got the hashtag #BoycottHamilton to trend for a period of time.
In an attempt to brush everything aside, Pence spoke to Fox News a few days after Dixon’s speech at the theater. He was quoted saying that he wasn’t offended by any of the remarks from the cast and that he and his family really enjoyed the show.
Pence also took the opportunity to try and clear Trump’s name by saying, “…he is preparing to be the President of all the people of the United States of America.” The Vice President-elect further praised the show after that, hoping to end the debacle. The question that has been debated since then: Was the Hamilton
cast simply exercising a first amendment right, or overstepping their bounds?