NEW YORK (AP) — President-elect Donald Trump, in the midst of choosing his Cabinet, took time out Sunday for a second day to criticize the cast of the Broadway musical “Hamilton” and demand an apology for a message an actor delivered from stage to Trump’s running mate about the need for diversity in America.
This time, Trump added a dig at the critically acclaimed show, which is sold out until September, saying he has heard it’s “highly overrated.”
The drama began at the Friday night performance as soon as Vice President-elect Mike Pence walked into the Richard Rodgers Theatre with his nephew and daughter. A mixture of boos and cheers rang out from the crowd as Pence slipped into his prime orchestra seat.
When the show ended, Pence was asked by a cast member to hear a prepared speech after the curtain call from the multiracial and multicultural cast, saying it is concerned about the Trump administration.
“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,” said Brandon Victor Dixon, who plays Aaron Burr, the nation’s third vice president, as his fellow actors joined hands. “We truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us.”
The unusual address quickly went viral — and Trump wasn’t happy. On Saturday, Trump tweeted that Pence had been “harassed” by the “Hamilton” cast. In another tweet, he said: “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!”
Dixon responded on Twitter that “conversation is not harassment sir” and added that he appreciated Pence stopping to listen.
Trump posted a tweet Saturday evening similar to his earlier ones but later deleted it. Staffers did not respond to an email asking why.
On Sunday morning, while awaiting a second day of important meetings, this time with officials including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Trump took to Twitter again to resume his complaints about the “Hamilton cast.”
“The cast and producers of Hamilton, which I hear is highly overrated, should immediately apologize to Mike Pence for their terrible behavior,” he tweeted.
Pence himself hasn’t spoken out about the “Hamilton” speech or given any indication he was upset by what happened.
Reaction to the debacle was mixed, with some calling Dixon’s speech “disrespectful” and threatening to boycott the show and others saying it was an important message that needed to be delivered.
The musical is by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote the story, music and lyrics. It stresses the orphan, immigrant roots of first U.S. Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton and has a terrifically varied score, ranging from pop ballads to gospel to sexy R&B. It has been cheered for reclaiming the nation’s founding story with a multicultural cast.
Miranda, in a tweet, said he was “proud” of Dixon and the “Hamilton” cast “for leading with love,” before reminding people that everyone is welcome at the theater.
Miranda had been a big booster for the failed presidential campaign of Trump’s opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton, including performing at an all-star fundraiser for her last month. The cast also put on a special “Hamilton” show at a Clinton fundraiser last summer.
The person playing Alexander Hamilton that Pence saw was Javier Munoz, an openly gay actor. Pence supported numerous efforts to ban gay marriage as governor of Indiana and opposed unfettered federal funding for HIV and AIDS treatment.