NEW YORK (Reuters) - President-elect Donald Trump on Saturday demanded an apology from the cast of “Hamilton” for appealing from the stage to Mike Pence to “uphold our American values” while the vice-president-elect was attending a performance of the Broadway hit.
“The Theater must always be a safe and special place. The cast of Hamilton was very rude last night to a very good man, Mike Pence. Apologize!” Trump wrote on Twitter, taking time out from his search for appointees to his incoming administration.
“Our wonderful future V.P. Mike Pence was harassed last night at the theater by the cast of Hamilton, cameras blazing. This should not happen!” Trump wrote.
A mix of boos and cheers greeted Pence, a Republican, as he entered the Richard Rodgers Theater in New York on Friday night to watch the highly acclaimed rap musical about the country’s founding fathers, whose color-blind cast features African-American and Latino actors portraying the country’s founding fathers, all of whom were white.
After the show, Brandon Victor Dixon, who plays America’s third vice president, Aaron Burr, read a statement directed at Pence while standing in front of the cast in full costume.
“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,” Dixon said.
Pence had already begun to leave his seat as Dixon began his remarks, videos posted on social media showed.
“We truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us,” Dixon said as audience members cheered and clapped.
Trump’s remarks triggered a barrage of posts on Twitter, most of which were critical of the president-elect.
Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement that the “Hamilton” cast was exercising the right to free speech and that Trump was wrong to criticize them for doing so.
“The apology should instead come from President-elect Trump for calling into question the appropriateness of the Hamilton cast’s statements,” Romero said.
A show spokesman said Pence stood in the hallway outside the entrance to the auditorium and heard the full remarks, the New York Times reported.
“Hamilton” is a hip-hop-infused musical that tells the story of Alexander Hamilton, a penniless immigrant who rose to become the right-hand man of General George Washington, as well as a key figure in the creation of the U.S. financial system and the creator of the U.S. Coast Guard. He was killed in an 1804 duel with Burr.
The actor Dixon fired back at Trump’s allegations of harassment.
“@realDonaldTrump conversation is not harassment sir. And I appreciate @mike_pence for stopping to listen,” he tweeted in response to Trump’s Tweet.
The show’s award-winning creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, posted his own response.
“Proud of @HamiltonMusical. Proud of @BrandonVDixon, for leading with love. And proud to remind you that ALL are welcome at the theater,” Miranda wrote on Twitter.
Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who supported Trump during the presidential campaign, slammed the cast’s actions in a message on Twitter.
“The arrogance and hostility of the Hamilton cast to the Vice President elect ( a guest at the theater) is a reminder the left still fights,” wrote Gingrich, who is viewed as a possible pick for Trump’s cabinet.
Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s campaign manager, wrote on Twitter that Pence had deserved “respect and a peaceful night out with his nephew and daughter” at the theater.
Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee, Timothy McLaughlin in Chicago and Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Writing by Alistair Bell; Editing by Mary Milliken and Leslie Adler