November 21, 2016 by gregrabidoux2013
A not so funny thing happened to one patron in the audience at last Friday night’s showing of the Broadway musical Hamilton. He received an unexpected lecture from the cast. Right after the full cast took its curtain call and bows the house lights went up and Brandon Victor Dixon, the actor who portrays Aaron Burr in the musical let newly elected Vice-president Mike Pence have it with both barrels, Burr style.
Mr. Pence, attending the play with his young daughter and several of her cousins sat in the audience and graciously listened to this scripted and no doubt, unwelcome lecture;
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,” said Brandon Victor Dixon, who portrays Aaron Burr. “But we truly hope this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us, all of us. We truly thank you for sharing this show — this wonderful American story told by a diverse group of men, women, of different colors, creeds, and orientations.”
Afterwards, Mr. Pence said that while he certainly found the “calling-out” to be unexpected and even unprecedented, he simply deflected questions as to its appropriateness. “That is for others to determine,” he said, adding that “the play was wonderful and I urge people to see it to learn more of our founding fathers.”
Predictably, his boss, the newly elected President Trump was not so generous. He immediately demanded an apology from the cast of Hamilton, calling the show bloated and highly overrated to boot.
Supporters of the show quickly came to its defense arguing that curtain calls have been used in the past to make political statements or urge action or plead for compassion during times of heightened societal tensions.
Pointed political plays such as Rent or The Band Played On which deal with homosexuality, discrimination and indifference have been examples of such “stage advocacy.”
On the other hand, critics were also just as quick to point out that it’s one thing to offer up a general statement or call to action very much another to single out an audience member, even a public figure, and lecture him from the stage.
Apparently, Mr. Pence’s “crime” was being a paying customer at their show and not their choice for vice-president.
Stevie Van Zandt, lead guitarist for Bruce Springsteen’s E-Street Band and no stranger to controversy let loose with a few choice riffs of his own in response. “You don’t single out an audience member and embarrass him or her from stage. Theater should be a safe haven for Art to speak. Not actors.”
Mr. Dixon who read the scripted “lecture” penned by Hamilton’s creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, has since made the media rounds to double-down on their cast calling-out. On CNN this morning and on NBC’s Today show he said that the cast’s outrage over the direction the nation is taking gave them no choice but to speak out. Supported by both interviewers he reiterated his message and criticism of both the newly elected Vice-president and President, saying that it was deserved.
When asked if he thought he should apologize to either Mr. Pence or Trump, Dixon made a joke, referencing that a Burr never backs down and won’t start now. This evinced a hearty laugh from all at the interview table.
And the far left wonders still, why Secretary Clinton lost, and why over 60 million of their fellow Americans see them as utterly spoiled, hopelessly elitist and in a seemingly never-ending temper tantrum. Seriously. Can you imagine if Mr. Obama was in the audience with his daughters and was lectured from stage by a cast member over his decisions in the Middle East? Or Trade policy? Or why his Obamacare premiums just went up? Or how about from the cast of “Blue Line” about even more recent lethal ambush attacks on police officers across this country and his arguably muted and meek response?
The outrage, the vitriol, the indignation would be loud enough to fill opera houses from coast to coast.
Look, I get the fear that many feel about the recent election of Mr. Trump. A rainbow campaign of inclusion and acceptance were not exactly the dominant themes of his campaign. He voiced the frustration, fear and anger a number of Americans feel about terrorism, immigration and loss of jobs and opportunity that at times was blunt even incendiary. His choice for vice president has carved out a conservative career and has rose to prominence on social issues that have angered many, especially in the LGBTQ community.
On the other hand, Mr. Trump and Mr. Pence chose to accentuate economic opportunity for all rather than placate with what they and their supporters see as platitudes of harmony and governmentally orchestrated social equity. Throughout the campaign candidate Trump largely avoided many divisive social issues choosing to hammer away at economic ones. And it worked. He and not Secretary Clinton is the one putting together a transition team to take office in January of 2017.
And it seems that its about time those that did not support him at least give him the chance to be what he himself says is his goal-To be the president for all Americans.
Sure they can keep breaking the “Fourth Wall” and lecturing the paying audience about American values and liberty and democracy but it seems both shrill and a bit hypocritical. Shrill because Mr. Pence along with his boss have yet to even be inaugurated and hypocritical because the main lead of their musical Mr. Alexander Hamilton was the architect of the present day electoral college. A system that just elected Mr. Trump and Pence to the highest office of this land.
And with single ticket prices for Hamilton going at between $650 and $1,225 a pop it seems kind of elitist and unappreciative to lecture anyone in your audience. At those prices you probably should be cheering them and hoping they come back for the next day’s matinee show. Or does your theater only accommodate and seat those whose views you agree with?