WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An actor from the hit Broadway musical “Hamilton” who angered Donald Trump when he appealed on-stage for Vice President-elect Mike Pence to ensure the incoming administration respected all Americans said on Monday he would not apologize for the remarks.
President-elect Trump has complained several times about the comments delivered on behalf of the cast by actor Brandon Victor Dixon when Pence attended the show on Friday evening. In a series of weekend Twitter messages, Trump accused the cast of “terrible behavior,” said they had “harassed” Pence and demanded that they apologize.
Pence himself said on Sunday he was not offended, and declined to ask for an apology.
Dixon, who played America’s third vice president, Aaron Burr, in the show, told CBS’s “This Morning” program there was no need for the cast to apologize.
Standing in front of the cast, who are of diverse race and ethnicity although they play historical figures who were white, Dixon told Pence after Friday night’s performance in New York: “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.”
Dixon defended the cast statement on Monday, saying the actors wanted “to stand up and spread a message of love and unity” following the bitterly divisive election campaign that culminated in Trump’s surprise win on Nov. 8.
“There’s nothing to apologize for,” Dixon told CBS. “Conversation is not harassment.”
He said Trump was welcome to see the show as well, adding that he appreciated that Pence listened and that “it was the beginning of a conversation that I hope we can continue to have.”
“Art is meant to bring people together, it’s meant to raise consciousness,” Dixon said.
On Sunday, Pence acknowledged that many people were disappointed and anxious after the election, but he sought to reassure Americans that Trump would be a president “for all Americans” when he takes office on Jan. 20.
The victory by the Republican Trump, a New York businessman who has never held public office, has prompted a rash of protests nationwide by people concerned that his tough campaign rhetoric about immigrants and Muslims could translate into abuse of civil rights.
“Hamilton” recounts the story of Alexander Hamilton, a poor immigrant who rose to become the right-hand man of General George Washington and a key figure in the creation of the U.S. financial system, as well as founding the U.S. Coast Guard. Hamilton was killed in an 1804 duel with Burr.
The hip-hop-infused musical, which a New York Times review described last year as a “show about young rebels grabbing and shaping the future of an unformed country,” opened on Broadway in 2015 and has generated more than $1.4 billion in sales and garnered 11 Tony Awards. It has also expanded to other cities.
Following the statement to Pence on Broadway, local media reports said an allegedly intoxicated man attending a performance of “Hamilton” in Chicago on Saturday was charged with a misdemeanor for disturbing the show and refusing to leave after reportedly yelling about Trump.
Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Frances Kerry