Mike Pence took a break from government transition work Friday night to attend a Broadway performance of Hamilton, but the musical ended with the cast directly addressing the vice president-elect and asking him to “work on behalf of all of us.”
It seemed to be a tense outing from the get-go for the Indiana governor, who received a tepid welcome at the New York theater where witnesses said Pence was booed as he entered and walked toward his seat.
Then at the close of the musical, with the entire cast assembled on stage, Pence was addressed directly by a member of the cast.
“We, sir — we are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us,” said actor Brandon Victor Dixon, who plays Aaron Burr.
“We truly hope this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us,” Dixon said. “This is one American story told by a diverse group of men and women of different colors, creeds, and orientations.”
The audience erupted in cheers after Dixon spoke to the vice president-elect.
It was unclear if Pence caught most of the statement. The Associated Press reported he ducked out before the address and Dixon, as he began, noted that the president-elect was already walking out. “I hope you will hear just a few more moments,” he said.
A show spokesperson, however, told the New York Times that Pence stood in the hallway outside the theater entrance and heard the speech.
On Saturday morning, Donald Trump himself had heard of the drama, tweeting criticism of the cast and demanding they apologize:
Dixon, the actor who spoke to Pence from the stage, then responded to Trump on Twitter:
Hours later, Trump continued to tweet about the incident and called the cast “rude and insulting” although he deleted it minutes later.
Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s former campaign manager, also criticized the cast’s actions, as did former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich:
Some people in the audience also speculated that lyrics of the musical appeared to be sung directly at Pence, a question that seemed to be answered once the cast addressed Trump’s running mate at the end of the performance.
The New York Times reported that the director, producer, and cast of the musical decided to write a statement to the vice president-elect once they learned he would be attending.
The show’s Pulitzer Prize–winning creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, said he was proud of the cast’s actions:
The Secret Service motorcade was the first hint someone from the Trump campaign might be headed to see Hamilton Friday night.
Once inside, video captured in the theater showed the vice president-elect greeted with a series of applause and distinct boos.
Several people in the audience tweeted pictures of Pence and his security team taking a seat.
One witness called it an “unreal scene.”
The awkwardness didn’t stop there.
The jeering and cheering continued and apparently reached a pitch when actor Rory O’Malley, an openly gay man who plays King George in the musical, sang the lyrics to a reprise of “You’ll Be Back.”
The song includes the lyrics:
It’s much harder when it’s your call
All alone, across the sea
When your people say they hate you
Don’t come crawling back to me
A Broadway show that focuses in significant part on Alexander Hamilton’s immigrant experience was an unexpected choice of entertainment for the conservative vice president-elect.
In March 2015, Pence signed Indiana’s Religious Freedom Law, which opponents and businesses criticized as allowing discrimination against LGBT people. The outcry — which went national — led to a revision to protect against discrimination, which Pence also signed.
Later in 2015, Pence was one of many governors who opposed Syrian refugees coming into his state. This past month, a federal appeals court slammed Pence for actions he took in support of that opposition.
Dixon’s statement might have struck a personal chord for the diverse cast, whose main character — previously played by Lin-Manuel Miranda — is now being played by Javier Muñoz, an HIV-positive, openly gay man from a Puerto Rican family.
But the play also strikes on other issues that have been targeted by the Trump campaign, such as immigration, with Hamilton often highlighting his rich immigrant background.
According to audience members, one of the show’s lines was greeted with particularly loud applause and cheers Friday: “Immigrants, we get the job done!”