Hamilton- Cast’s Appeal to Pence Ignites Showdown With Trump

A surprising confrontation erupted on Saturday between President-elect Donald J. Trump and the cast and creators of the Broadway hit “Hamilton,” setting off furious debate over American principles like free speech, respect and the ability to challenge authority in the Trump era.
‘Hamilton’ Cast’s Appeal to Pence Ignites Showdown With Trump
‘Hamilton’ Cast’s Appeal to Pence Ignites Showdown With Trump
President-elect Trump demanded an apology from the cast for making a rare, politically charged appeal from the stage on Friday night to Vice President-elect Mike Pence, who was in the audience, urging him and Mr. Trump to “uphold our American values” and “work on behalf of all of us.” Mr. Trump’s response significantly escalated an unusual protest inside a theater into a furor on social media and cable news.

Mr. Trump, who has stirred bipartisan concern over his habit of attacking those who challenge him, said on Twitter that the actors had “harassed” Mr. Pence, and he issued a battle cry to his supporters by saying that the musical’s cast had criticized “our wonderful future VP Mike Pence.”

He continued to assail the show on Twitter on Saturday night, writing that the actors had been “very rude and insulting” to Mr. Pence and claiming that they “couldn’t even memorize lines” — though he offered no evidence and then deleted the message.

Mr. Trump posted to Twitter a third time and deleted the tweet shortly after posting it Saturday night.
Mr. Trump posted to Twitter a third time and deleted the tweet shortly after posting it Saturday night.
The clash between the “Hamilton” actors and Mr. Trump captured the sharply divergent feelings of many Americans 11 days after the election: a showdown between the values of multiculturalism on the left, including the racially diverse “Hamilton” cast and the world of entertainment, and the conservative principles of the incoming Republican administration, which was backed strongly by working-class white voters and traditional Republicans.

Mr. Trump framed the cast’s appeal as a violation of “a safe and special place” — borrowing a favored phrase of the left and of campus protesters; it was not clear whether he did so derisively or in earnest.

His maneuver, in two posts to Twitter early Saturday, stunned the cast members and, judging by social media, jolted many Americans who are worried about the president-elect’s tolerance for dissent after a campaign in which he was criticized for inflaming racial tensions. But it also touched off reaction among other Americans who treasure the traditions of, and respect for, the office of the presidency, and viewed the statement — and the booing of Mr. Pence by some theatergoers before the performance — as out of line.

On Saturday, one supporter of Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter that the “Hamilton” statement was “a staged hit job.” Another wrote that actors should never “humiliate a member of the audience.”

Even some artists said it was wrong to deliver a surprise political message to an audience member after curtain call. “You don’t single out an audience member and embarrass him from the stage,” the musician Steven Van Zandt, a bandmate of Bruce Springsteen’s, wrote on Twitter. “A terrible precedent to set.”

Mr. Pence’s “Hamilton” seats were bought, not provided by the production as complimentary seats, according to two people with knowledge of the transaction.

Matt Borges, the chairman of the Ohio Republican Party, who was often critical of Mr. Trump this year, said that though he would always support free expression, he was dismayed that the left was demanding respect from Mr. Pence while lecturing him disrespectfully in the eyes of many on the right.

“It never ceases to amaze me how liberals desire acceptance and diversity for everything except political philosophy,” he said.

But many theater artists cheered the “Hamilton” cast on Saturday. “The theater will always be a place that encourages self-expression and free thinking — which is exactly what makes the art form so vital and, frankly, exciting,” said Heather Hitchens, president of the American Theater Wing, a nonprofit that supports the arts and helps oversee the Tony Awards.

“Hamilton,” itself a deeply political show about the United States as a nation of immigrants — with black or Hispanic actors playing George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and other founding fathers — has been celebrated by President Obama, Hillary Clinton and many other Democrats, as well as Republicans including former Vice President Dick Cheney.

The “Hamilton” company learned late Friday that Mr. Pence and his family members would be attending that night’s performance. The show’s creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and others discussed the appropriateness of making a statement from the stage and decided to do it only after the show was over. Remarks were written and refined, and after curtain call, Brandon Victor Dixon, who plays Vice President Aaron Burr, took a microphone and pointed toward Mr. Pence.

Hamilton- Cast’s Appeal to Pence Ignites Showdown With Trump Hamilton- Cast’s Appeal to Pence Ignites Showdown With Trump Reviewed by Dayu Okta on 11/19/2016 Rating: 5

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