”Hamilton,” an overwhelmingly popular musical about the political foundations of the United States, captured the attention of President-elect Donald Trump this weekend when castmate Brandon Victor Dixon read a message to a singled-out audience member after a performance in New York City.
That audience member was Vice President-elect Mike Pence, and the message read, in part:
“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, sir. But we truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us.”
Shortly after Dixon, who plays Aaron Burr in the hit theater production, delivered his impassioned words on Friday night, Trump took to Twitter to demand the “overrated” “Hamilton” cast apologize for “harassing” Pence.
Early the following Monday morning, Dixon appeared on “CBS This Morning” to deliver a simple response: “There’s nothing to apologize for.”
When asked by CBS why he and his castmates at Richard Rodgers Theatre decided to speak directly to Pence, Dixon explained that “Hamilton” is a politically-conscious production with a platform capable of reaching a global audience.
“The producers, the creatives, and the cast ― we recognize that ‘Hamilton’ is an inherently American story told by a definition of the American community,” he said. “We are men, women of different colors, creeds and orientations. You know, the resonant nature of the show throughout the world, throughout the global community, demands we make statements when there are important issues facing us as a community. So we wanted to stand up and spread a message of love and unity considering all the emotional outpour since the election.”
“Conversation is not harassment. I was really appreciative that Vice President-elect Pence stood there and listened to what we had to say. And you know, I know that some people have said that a one-sided conversation or lecture is not conversation, but it was the beginnings of a conversation I hope that we can continue to have.”
Dixon also explained that “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda helped craft the statement along with producer Jeffrey Seller and director Tommy Kail. Seller called Dixon an hour-and-a-half before curtain to see if he would be interested in sharing their words. Dixon explained how he read the message to the cast and made some adjustments ahead of his end-of-show speech.
For the record, Pence said that he really enjoyed the performance and wasn’t offended by what was said. He is, according to Dixon, welcome to come to the show again ― as is Trump ― to have a conversation with the cast backstage.
Dixon had a message for the individuals coping with fear following the election of Trump, too:
“For me, I think the most important thing to me with respect to all the emotions everyone is feeling after this election is to make sure that people recognize we are not alone. We are here together. And we need to listen to one and other and speak to one and other, and maybe those of us who feel their voice has been marginalized or might become marginalized ― it’s important that they recognize that there are allies all over the place.”
Dixon has been widely supported by past and present “Hamilton” castmembers in New York City and Chicago in the days following his performance:
My friends we can never ever be afraid to stand for what’s right and what’s real. Liberty and justice for ALL!❤️✌?
— Wallace Smith (@WallaceSmith007) November 19, 2016
Bonus: Even Miranda’s dad chimed in.
Good night! I’ll sleep 2 hrs like a well fed baby knowing @HamiltonMusical gave voice 2 our anxiety as we hear Trump/Pence positions & appts
— Luis A. Miranda, Jr. (@Vegalteno) November 19, 2016