Cast of Hamilton delivers a message to Vice President-elect Pence

posted at 8:31 am on November 19, 2016 by John Sexton

Vice President-elect Mike Pence attended a performance of Hamilton Friday night. Pence was greeted with a mix of booing and some applause when he entered the theater in Manhattan:

Immediately after the show, Pence got up to leave the theater and one of the actors announced that the Vice President-elect was in attendance and, after asking people not to boo, said he had a message to deliver to him. Video of the announcement was posted on the official Hamilton Twitter account:

We have a message for you sir and we hope you will hear us out…Vice President-elect Pence we welcome you and we truly thank you for joining us at Hamilton an American musical, we really do. 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 all of us. All of us.

Pence stood in a hallway just outside and listened to the entire statement before exiting the building. The NY Times reports that the message was written by the show’s creator with input from the director, the producer and the cast:

The statement that Mr. Dixon read was written by the show’s creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, its director, Thomas Kail, and the lead producer, Jeffrey Seller, with input from cast members, Mr. Seller said.

“We had to ask ourselves, how do we cope with this?” Mr. Seller said. “Our cast could barely go on stage the day after the election. The election was painful and crushing to all of us here. We all struggled with what was the appropriate and respectful and proper response. We are honored that Mr. Pence attended the show, and we had to use this opportunity to express our feelings.”

Mr. Seller said that there was some discussion about whether it was appropriate to inject a political statement into the night, and that those involved decided to wait until the end of the performance.

There’s plenty to be offended by here but on the scale of left-wing obnoxiousness I’d say this scores about a 6 (out of 10). On one hand the message presumes that the incoming administration is a threat to pretty much everyone and everything, which is just obnoxious. And the bit about hoping Pence was inspired by the show presumes that, without that inspiration, he’s hopeless. Also, making this statement public— rather than, say, sending Pence a note from the cast privately— seems more about posturing for the cameras than communication. There’s no dialog possible here. It’s not as if Pence could respond or do anything but politely hear them out. This is the kind of national discussion the left loves: the kind where they talk and you listen.

On the other hand, unlike a lot of progressive speechifying, the message here was brief and opened with what sounded like a sincere thanks to Pence for coming (YMMV). And it was good they waited until the end of the show rather than calling Pence out at the start and making him uncomfortable the whole night. Also, unlike a lot of events into which progressives shoehorn their opinions, this show is a musical about American history, one that offers a specific take on America as ‘a nation of immigrants.’ So while the show is meant to be entertainment it’s also fundamentally political in a way that many things are not. Given that, it’s not completely out of left field that the creators of the show wanted to take the opportunity presented by Pence’s attendance to talk about current politics. Pence probably saw it coming.


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