Protesters have called for a boycott of the Broadway hit "Hamilton" after the cast read an appeal to Mike Pence. The President-elect has demanded an apology, after the cast implored Pence to "uphold our American values."
President-elect Donald Trump demanded an apology from the cast of the Broadway musical "Hamilton" after they read a statement to Vice-President-elect Mike Pence at the end of a show on Friday.
When Vice-President-elect Mike Pence walked in to a Friday performance of the hit musical "Hamilton," he was greeted by a mixture of applause and boos from the rest of the audience.
At curtain call, actor Brandon Victor Dixon read a statement directed at Pence, calling for him to work for Americans who feel "anxious" about the new administration. He also asked the audience not to boo.
"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 defend us and uphold our inalienable rights," said Dixon, who plays Aaron Burr, the nation's third vice president.
"We truly hope this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and work on behalf of all of us. All of us."
Pence was leaving as the cast started reading the statement, but he stood in the hallway outside the auditorium and heard the cast's full remarks, the "New York Times" reported a show spokesman as saying.
'Rude' or 'freedom of speech'?
Trump took to Twitter to voice his displeasure with the "Hamilton" cast's statement on Saturday, saying that Pence was "harassed last night at the theater by the cast of Hamilton" adding that "the Theater must always be a safe and special place." He also demanded an apology.
Dixon responded on Twitter, saying that "conversation is not harassment," adding that he appreciated Pence stopping to listen to the statement.
The show's creator and also the co-writer of the statement which was read on Friday, Lin-Manuel Miranda, said he was "proud" of Dixon and the cast, adding that "all are welcome at the theater."
Rights groups Amnesty International and the American Civil Liberties Union praised the "Hamilton" cast for exercising their right to freedom of speech.
"The apology should instead come from President-elect Trump for calling into question the appropriateness of the Hamilton cast's statements," ACLU executive director Anthony Romero said in a statement.
Reactions on social media were split concerning the "Hamilton" statement, with many taking umbrage with the audience who booed Pence, saying it was disrespectful.
Republican Newt Gingrich, who supported Trump, criticized "the arrogance and hostility" of the cast's actions on Twitter.
A small group of pro-Trump protesters showed up outside of the theater Saturday to voice their displeasure the cast. Others on social media have been calling for a boycott of the sold-out show about the life of the first US Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton.
Others believed the "Hamilton" statement was delivered respectfully. Some joked that a boycott on "Hamilton" will be likely ineffectual as tickets for the Broadway show are sold out through September 2017.
Concerns about gay rights
The wildly popular hit musical, which won 11 Tony Awards in June, follows young colonial rebels who became America's founding fathers, celebrating diversity and immigrants' contribution to the nation.
The actor playing Hamilton that Pence saw was Javier Munoz, who is openly gay, HIV positive and a cancer survivor. As governor of Indiana, Pence supported several efforts to ban gay marriage and opposed unfettered federal funding for HIV and AIDS treatment - despite an outbreak of the virus in his state.
Pence also pushed through legislation this year which would have required women who had abortions to either bury or cremate fetal tissue. The law was ultimately struck down by a federal judge.
Many racial, religious and sexual minorities in the US have voiced concerns over their rights under Trump's new administration.
rs/kl (AP, AFP, Reuters)