“Conversation is not harassment, sir.”
That’s what Hamilton star Brandon Victor Dixon had to say Saturday, after President-elect Donald Trump claimed Vice President-elect Mike Pence was “harassed” while attending the Friday evening showing of the Tony-winning musical.
Pence, 57, had paid a visit to the hottest musical on Broadway — and received heavy boos from the audience upon his arrival.
During the curtain call at the Richard Rodgers Theatre, the Broadway cast addressed him directly — with actor Brandon Victor Dixon, who plays former vice president Aaron Burr in the show — delivering a statement written by the show’s producers.
“I see you walking out but I hope you will hear us,” Dixon said. He 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.”
Video of the speech quickly went viral online — with many weighing in throughout the evening and into early morning as to whether the crowd’s reaction and the speech was justified.
Throughout the course of his political career, Pence has been a crusader for anti-LGBTQ legislation, supporting a constitutional amendment to ban marriage equality and signing a 2013 bill to jail same-sex couples in Indiana for applying for a marriage license.
As a Congressional candidate in 2000, Pence proposed to move federal funding from HIV/AIDS organizations to institutions that would provide conversion therapy for “those seeking to change their sexual behavior.”
Broadway has been a safe-haven for the LGBTQ community for years — accepting, employing and championing many of its members. Hamilton itself stars a diverse cast lead by Javier Muñoz in the title role — an openly gay, HIV-positive actor.
The show was also participating in the twice annual, six-week fundraiser for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS — where casts, crews and volunteers at Broadway, Off-Broadway and national touring productions around the country deliver post-show speeches and accept donations at theatre exits for one of the nation’s leading industry-based HIV/AIDS fundraising and grant-making organizations.
“Our wonderful future V.P. Mike Pence was harassed last night at the theater by the cast of Hamilton, cameras blazing,” Trump tweeted on Saturday morning. “This should not happen!”
“The Theater must always be a safe and special place,” he continued. “The cast of Hamilton was very rude last night to a very good man, Mike Pence. Apologize!”
Dixon responded, telling Trump — adding that he appreciated Pence “for stopping to listen.”
Muñoz kept things vague – telling his followers on Twitter to “Live/own your truth, let none make you feel small,” and “be the light that shines bright.”
Lin-Manuel Miranda — the show’s Pulitzer-Prize winning creator and former star— stood behind the actions of his cast.
“Proud of @HamiltonMusical,” he wrote. “Proud of @BrandonVDixon, for leading with love. And proud to remind you that ALL are welcome at the theater.”
Trump’s campaign manager also addressed Pence’s reception at the musical, retweeting Joe Scarborough who shared an old quote from President Barack Obama saying that he believed that marriage was between a man and a woman.
“‘I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman. For me as a Christian.’ -Pres Obama,” Scarborough wrote. “Was he booed on Broadway his 1st term?”
“This is so true. And @mike_pence deserves respect and a peaceful night out with his nephew and daughter. #yourvicepresident,” Conway responded.
Josh Gad —a Tony-nominee for his role in The Book of Mormon – penned a message on Twitter on Saturday.
“I know the booing upsets some of you,” he wrote. “But this is what happens when you run on a platform of hate. When you spend a year demonizing races and faiths. When your running mate teases assassinating and jailing his rival. When you openly supported conversion therapy for Gays.”
“I personally would never boo someone at the a theater,” he added. “But this feels different.”
The Hamilton staff received a request from Pence to attend Friday’s performance earlier that afternoon, producer Jeffrey Seller told The Hollywood Reporter.
“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,” Seller said. “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.”
“Everybody should be able to see this show, regardless of their politics,” he continued. “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.”