Oh, to be in the room where this happened: last night, Vice President-elect Mike Pence attended a performance of Hamilton at the Richard Rodgers Theater in New York–and it went about as well as you might expect.
Witnesses also in attendance said that Pence was booed by the audience as he was recognized while heading to his seat before the show began. Once Hamilton kicked off, knowledge of Pence’s presence appeared to create a different energy amongst theater-goers as a result–and led to a few charged interruptions over the course of the performance. One person in attendance said the audience gave a standing ovation at the line “Immigrants, we get the job done”, which is uttered by the characters Alexander Hamilton and the Marquis de Lafayette during the song “Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down)”. Pence reportedly left during intermission and returned after the show had resumed, taking his seat again in the middle of “What’d I Miss?”.
There also seemed to be a pointed reference to Pence’s presence when Rory O’Malley, an openly gay actor who currently plays the role of King George, gestured in his direction during the song “What Comes Next”. The audience apparently cheered so intensely during several lines from the number–including “It’s harder when it’s your call” and “When people say they hate you, don’t come crawling back to me”–that the song had to be paused until the applause had died down.
After the curtain call, the cast remained on stage as actor Brandon Victor Dixon, the show’s current Aaron Burr, read from a statement they had jointly prepared along with the show’s creator Lin-Manuel Miranda and director Tommy Kail:
Vice President-elect Pence, we welcome you and we truly thank you for joining us here at Hamilton: An American Musical. 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. We truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us. This is one American story told by a diverse group of men and women of different colors, creeds and orientations.
Pence had been in the middle of leaving the theater as Dixon addressed the audience, but according to a Hamilton spokesperson paused out in the hallway and heard the full statement. As of this posting, Pence had issued no statement regarding the events of Friday night; however, it didn’t stop Donald Trump from firing off two tweets early Saturday morning, accusing the Hamilton cast of harassing Pence and demanding their apology. Dixon, who had requested that the audience not boo Pence prior to reading the statement (as the video reveals), refuted Trump’s remarks–tweeting that “conversation is not harassment” and that he appreciated Pence’s willingness to stop and listen.
Pence has come under fire for his strict anti-LGBT legislation–and the growing Trump administration as a whole has been notoriously lacking in its diversity, therefore VP-elect’s attendance of a musical which is thoroughly diverse and addresses topics like immigration was noted as being an especially odd choice. (The role of Hamilton, formerly inhabited by Lin-Manuel Miranda, is currently being played by Javier Munoz: an HIV-positive, openly gay man who grew up in a Puerto Rican family.) Both Hamiltons sounded off on Twitter last night in perfectly succinct though somewhat un-Hamilton style, because you know the real Hamilton would’ve written 50 tweets in response:
UPDATE: Pence made an appearance on Fox News early Sunday morning in an interview with Chris Wallace, and towards the end of the segment addressed his experience at Hamilton, saying that the show was an “incredibly talented production.”
He confirmed that he “did hear what was said from the stage” and didn’t take offense, though he added he’ll “leave to others whether that was the appropriate venue to say it.” When pressed by Wallace over whether or not he expects an apology from the cast, Pence reiterated his previous statement on whether the statement was appropriately timed, but he concluded by encouraging Wallace to go and see the show himself.
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