Brandon Victor Dixon, star of the Broadway smash “Hamilton,” said the show’s cast and creators wanted to “stand up and spread a message of love and of unity,” when he spoke after Friday’s performance to Vice President-elect Mike Pence, earning the ire of President-elect Donald Trump.
Mr. Trump attacked the cast of “Hamilton” via Twitter several times over the weekend, demanding that they and the show’s producers apologize to Pence over what he labeled their “terrible behavior.”
On Friday Pence attended a performance of the multiple Tony Award-winning show in New York City, where he was greeted by boos from the audience. Following the show, with the cast on stage, Dixon (who plays Vice President Aaron Burr) read a statement, thanking the vice president-elect for attending, and noting, “We are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us.
“We truly hope this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and work on behalf of all of us,” Dixon concluded.
Video of the speech went viral:
However, Mr. Trump tweeted twice early Saturday, and again early Sunday, that the cast had harassed Pence, and demanded that they apologize.
On “Face the Nation” Sunday, Pence praised the performance and said he had not been offended.
While the incident prompted discussion on the Internet about the etiquette of singling out an audience member at a theater, it also spurred criticism of Mr. Trump for attacking actors who had made a respectful speech calling for unity, and for deflecting the public’s attention from his $25 million settlement of the Trump University fraud lawsuits, announced on Friday, and his controversial picks for his Cabinet.
When asked why it was decided to make the speech, Dixon told “CBS This Morning” Monday that the producers, creators and cast recognize that the show “is an inherently American story told by the definition of the American community.
“We are men and women of different colors, creeds and orientations, and the resonant nature of the show throughout the world, throughout the global community demands that we make statements when there are important issues, I think, facing us as a community.
“And so we wanted to stand up and spread a message of love and of unity considering all of the emotional outpouring since the election.”
Co-anchor Norah O’Donnell asked, “When Donald Trump tweeted this was harassment of his vice president-elect, your response was?”
“I simply informed him that conversation is not harassment,” Dixon replied. “And I was really appreciative that Vice President-elect Pence stood there and listened to what we had to stay. I know some people have said that a one-sided conversation, or a lecture, is not a conversation, but it was the beginnings of a conversation, I hope, that we can continue to have.”
Dixon said he was asked by the show’s producer, Jeffrey Seller, shortly before curtain, if he would be willing to deliver the message (crafted by the show’s creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda; the show’s director, Thomas Kail; and Seller). “I’m not sure why they decided to ask me, but I was happy to,” he said. “I was honored to represent our cast and our show in that way.”
After sharing the message with the cast, Dixon and other cast members made some adjustments to it.
“I think the most important thing, with respect to all of the emotions that everybody is feeling after this election, is to make sure that people recognize that we are not alone. We are here together and we need to listen to one another and speak with one another, and those of us who feel like maybe their voice has been marginalized, or might become marginalized, need to recognize there are allies all over the place.”
“The president-elect is demanding an apology,” said co-anchor Charlie Rose.
“I heard!” Dixon replied.
“We assume no apology is forthcoming?”
“There is nothing to apologize for,” he said.
When asked about the propriety of speaking out to a member of the audience, Dixon said that Pence was welcome to come backstage and speak with the cast.
Had Pence been invited? “I don’t know what conversations happened before the show with the producers,” Dixon said, “but I do know, on a regular basis, political figures, celebrities, people who want to come to the show, we know they are coming and they know it’s an option they can come back and they can speak to the cast and talk to us and take pictures. He absolutely could have done that, and if he was unaware at the time, I say to him, Vice President-elect Mike Pence, please come and have a conversation with us.”
On the weekend, a Trump supporter interrupted a performance of “Hamilton” in Chicago, after the line, “Immigrants: We get the job done!”
“We won! You lost! Get over it! F*** you!” he reportedly yelled, with his outburst growing until he was removed by security.
Co-anchor Gayle King asked Dixon if he feared having set a precedent for more interruptions at the theater.
No, he replied. “I’ll tell you, that is certainly not the first time, nor will it be the last, that somebody went into a theater and began to act inappropriately or stand up and interrupt a show.”
Dixon also affirmed that he’d asked audience members to record the moment on their phones, to spread his message.
“Art is meant to bring people together. It’s meant to raise consciousness.” He said he told the cast afterwards, “I applaud you all for not throwing away your shot, for taking a moment to spread a message of love, to spread a message of unity. We are here to cheer each other on.”
When asked if he’d like the president-elect to come see “Hamilton,” he replied, “We welcome him. We welcome Donald Trump at ‘Hamilton’ absolutely.”
Why? “I think the power of our show and the way we tell it is undeniable. I think it’s important for everybody to see a show like ours.”