Vice President-elect Mike Pence said Sunday that he "wasn't offended" when the cast of "Hamilton" read him a message following its performance on Friday. But the cast's statement appeared to strike a nerve with President-elect Donald Trump, who slammed "Hamilton" in a series of tweets and repeatedly called for an apology.
Pence attended the sold-out musical with his family on Friday night, prompting a mix of boos and cheers from the audience -- plus a prepared statement from the cast.
“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,” Brandon Victor Dixon, who plays Aaron Burr, said on behalf of the cast at the end of the performance. “We hope this show has inspired you to uphold our American values, and work on behalf of all of us. Thank you.”
Pence, who was on his way out of the Richard Rodgers Theatre, stopped to listen to the message, according to the cast. Days later, Pence told "Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace, "I wasn't offended by what was said. I'll leave to others whether that was the appropriate venue to say it."
He also said he wanted to reassure anxious Americans that Trump "is preparing to be the president of all of the people of the United States of America."
Trump struck a different tone on Twitter, demanding an apology for the cast's behavior.
"Our wonderful future V.P. Mike Pence was harassed last night at the theater by the cast of Hamilton, cameras blazing.This should not happen!" Trump said on Saturday morning. He followed up with a second tweet: "The Theater must always be a safe and special place.The cast of Hamilton was very rude last night to a very good man, Mike Pence. Apologize!"
But Trump didn't stop there. He later tweeted -- then deleted -- criticism of Dixon for reading a prepared statement from a sheet of paper, rather than memorizing it.
“Very rude and insulting of Hamilton cast member to treat our great future V.P. Mike Pence to a theater lecture. Couldn’t even memorize lines!” Trump tweeted.
The deletion wasn't a signal that the Twitter fight between the president-elect and the popular musical about a founding father was over.
On Sunday morning, Trump fired off another tweet about Hamilton: "The cast and producers of Hamilton, which I hear is highly overrated, should immediately apologize to Mike Pence for their terrible behavior."
He also took aim at "Saturday Night Live," which mocked the "Hamilton" ordeal in its cold open.
"I watched parts of @nbcsnl Saturday Night Live last night. It is a totally one-sided, biased show - nothing funny at all. Equal time for us?" he tweeted. Baldwin responded with a series of tweets that included: “ ... @realDonaldTrump Equal time? Election is over. There is no more equal time. Now u try 2 b Pres + ppl respond. That’s pretty much it.”
Trump's tweets were met with responses from the "Hamilton" cast -- including Dixon -- and its creator Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Dixon tweeted, “conversation is not harassment sir. And I appreciate @mike_pence for stopping to listen.”
“Proud of @HamiltonMusical. Proud of @BrandonVDixon, for leading with love. And proud to remind you that ALL are welcome at the theater,” Miranda tweeted.
Christopher Jackson, who portrayed George Washington until departing from the show last week, also responded.
“The countless Americans that have been Insulted, Degraded, Marginalized, Harassed, Intimidated. APOLOGIZE for that! APOLOGIZE for your HATE!” Jackson wrote on Twitter. “The Theater IS a ‘Safe and Special Place.’ And we stand on that stage rapping HONOR, and TOLERANCE and RESPECT. And ABOVE ALL ELSE, LOVE.”
Some on Twitter have called for a boycott of the extremely successful musical. That might be tough to manage: Tickets sell out many months ahead of time. A new batch of tickets for shows from Aug. 15, 2017, through Nov. 5, 2017 recently went on sale; standard tickets are already sold out for the last of those shows, on Nov. 5, while a handful of “mid-premium” and “premium” seats can still be snagged for $549 and up.
New Yorkers and "Hamilton" attendees weighed in on Sunday, with mixed thoughts on the "Hamilton" cast's address and Trump's Twitter stream of responses.
Emma Craig, 28, an Upper West Side actress and singer who's originally from Kansas, said, “I would love a boycott so I can finally get a ticket!” Craig, a Democrat, was at Richard Rodgers Theatre to escort Republican Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell and his wife Susie to their place in the "Hamilton" line, though she wasn't seeing the show with them.
“My, my, my, how the tables have turned: The bullies are feeling intimidated by the theater kids!” Craig said.
Jeff Longwell said he had never been booed as Pence was, but remarked, “I’m a very popular mayor." He said he thought the audience's response was "pretty tacky."
Still, Longwell noted, “I would love to see President-elect Trump show perhaps just a little more restraint on Twitter.”
Harlem resident Zelon Crawford, 45, dean of students at Columbia Business School, said she thought Trump’s tweets revealed him to be deviously thin-skinned. “New Yorkers show how they feel at all times” whether it’s about a sports team’s performance or a politician’s, she said, adding that she thought the cast was "very respectful."
Crawford ascribed Trump’s tweets to an ulterior motive: distracting the public and the press from the news that he agreed to pay $25 million to settle fraud claims brought against his defunct Trump University. “What else was going on that day? This was a distraction,” she said. “Everyone will talk about [the “Hamilton” event] instead of the lawsuit. We play chess, not checkers,” said Crawford, who was excited to see the show.
Amanda Flores, 29, a performance poet and creative writing instructor who is moving from San Antonio, Texas, to NYC, said, “I’m more on 'Hamilton’s' side of the fence." She noted that the speech did not include profanity and was respectful. “It was appropriate and relevant to the subject matter [of the play]," she said. “I appreciated it: It took guts.”
Adam Parker, 26, a financial advisor from Jersey City, said, “I’m a little split. It’s their stage. They have a right to do what they want." And the audience address “seemed like a decent message," he said. Parker said of Trump, “A bully mentality is always quick on the trigger.” He added that Pence's remarks Sunday morning about the "Hamilton" ordeal "are very hopeful."