Trump again crit­i­cizes cast of 'Hamil­ton'

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE -

Don­ald Trump again crit­i­cized “Hamil­ton” for a mes­sage di­rected to Mike Pence about the need for di­ver­sity.

Pres­i­den­t­elect 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 the stage to Trump’s run­ning mate about the need for di­ver­sity in Amer­ica. But Vice Pres­i­dent-elect Mike Pence said he wasn’t of­fended by the mes­sage.

Pence said on “Fox News Sun­day” that he heard the boos and cheers when he walked into the Richard Rodgers Theatre with his nephew and daugh­ter on Fri­day night to see the show. He said he told his daugh­ter: “That’s what free­dom sounds like.”

Trump had a dif­fer­ent take on the mes­sage from cast mem­ber Bran­don Vic­tor Dixon, who had ex­pressed his con­cerns in a pre­pared speech af­ter the cur­tain call about the in­com­ing Repub­li­can 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 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.”

Trump tweeted Satur­day that Pence had been “ha­rassed” by the cast. He called them “very rude” and de­manded they apol­o­gize. On Sun­day, while await­ing a sec­ond day of meet­ings as he works to vet po­ten­tial can­di­dates for his ad­min­is­tra­tion, he re­peated his or­der for an apol­ogy — and added a dig at the crit­i­cally ac­claimed show, which is sold out un­til Septem­ber.

“The cast and pro­duc­ers of Hamil­ton, which I hear is highly over­rated, should im­me­di­ately apol­o­gize to Mike Pence for their ter­ri­ble be­hav­ior,” he tweeted.

But Pence told Fox News that “Hamil­ton” was an “in­cred­i­ble pro­duc­tion” in­volv­ing a very tal­ented cast. On whether he thought an apol­ogy was nec­es­sary, he said: “I’ll leave it to oth­ers whether that was the ap­pro­pri­ate venue to say it.”

When prompted by Trump for an apol­ogy, Dixon re­sponded on Twit­ter that “con­ver­sa­tion is not ha­rass­ment sir” and added that he ap­pre­ci­ated Pence stop­ping to lis­ten.

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 Lin­Manuel 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 al­ls­tar 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.

ANDRES KUDACKI — AP PHOTO

Heav­ily armed po­lice stand guard as a mo­tor­cade car­ry­ing Vice Pres­i­dent-elect Mike Pence, cen­ter, leaves the Richard Rodgers Theatre af­ter a per­for­mance of “Hamil­ton” in New York Fri­day.

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