Hartford theater puts spotlight on ‘Hamilton’-Pence drama

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HARTFORD – Political controversy has taken center stage, with all eyes on the cast of "Hamilton" after it went a little off script.

After Friday night’s show, the cast singled out Vice President-elect Mike Pence.

“We sir, we are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us,” "Hamilton" star Brandon Victor Dixon said at the show, in part. “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."

Hartford Stage is reacting to the political drama, and is in support of what took place in the New York theater.

“I think that the theater can be used to raise these issues and to create a dialog,” Hartford Stage Managing Director Mike Stotts said. “The theater has been used to make points of all kinds, historically.”

As Hartford Stage prepares for its winter show, "A Christmas Carol," there’s no doubt politics have become a topic of conversation.

“Given the diversity of that cast and the subject matter of the play, I think it was actually an appropriate opportunity for them to say please represent all of us, we are all here,” Stotts said.

Stotts pointed out the difference the dialogue makes in the theater. For example, right now in the Broadway season the actors are addressing the audience to raise money after every performance for Broadway Cares/Equity fights AIDS.

He did admit that other politicians have been treated differently by the cast of "Hamilton."

“The Obamas, the Clintons, they've all seen 'Hamilton' as well and the reaction there was different, you know, it resulted in a backstage tour I believe and meet-and-greet with the cast,” he said. “That opportunity I don't think presented itself but I think that politics and the arts constantly are interacting with each other, sometimes colliding with each other, and I think it’s part of the role of the theater and the arts to like I say, bring issues to the forefront so that they're raised so the people can discuss them and understand them”

President-elect Donald Trump fired off a series of tweets over the weekend. One claimed Pence had been “harassed.”

Another said that the “cast and producers of Hamilton, which I hear is highly overrated, should immediately apologize to Mike Pence for their terrible behavior.”

The “Hamilton” star who read a message from the stage to Vice President-elect Mike Pence says the cast has “nothing to apologize for.”

“There was something President-elect Trump said about it being a safe environment in terms of content and I'm not entirely sure that that's the case,” Stotts said. “I mean we want all of our venues to be safe, and we want everyone to be safe like the artist and anyone who’s in the audience but I think we also content wise want to raise issues that bring to light and bring to the forefront issues of concern to everyone.”

Vice President-elect Mike Pence also responded saying he wasn’t offended.

"When we arrived, we heard a few boos, and we heard some cheers, and I nudged my kids and reminded them that's what freedom sounds like,” Pence said. " I can tell you, I wasn't offended by what was said, and I'll leave to others whether that was the appropriate venue to say it."

Some, including musician Steve Van Zandt took to Twitter in a series of tweets:

“When artists perform the venue becomes your home. The audience are your guests. It is nothing short of the same bullying tactic we rightly have criticized Trump for in the past. It's taking unfair advantage of someone who thought they were a protected guest in your home.”

“Hamilton,” which won 11 Tony Awards and the Pulitzer Prize for its depiction of the life of Alexander Hamilton, is sold out well into next year.

With additional reporting by CNN.