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The Tyranny of the Broadway Bullies

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
Even though it was in midtown Manhattan and even though the people there had to pay hundreds of dollars just enter the room, there was no unanimity among them.

Some in the audience liked Mike Pence. Some did not.


"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," the vice president-elect said on Fox News Sunday.

He was describing what happened when he entered a theatre on Friday night to watch a performance of "Hamilton."

At the end of the show, a similar freedom was not exhibited on the stage.

Among the actors and actresses who came out for a curtain call, there were not two views. There was not a multitude of views. There was only one.

The producer of the show, Jeffrey Seller, and actor Brandon Victor Dixon -- who plays Aaron Burr -- explained separately to The New York Times and CBS "This Morning" how that happened.

Seller told the Times that he, "Hamilton" creator Lin-Manuel Miranda and director Thomas Kail decided they needed to make a statement to Pence -- and collaborated in drafting one.

Miranda had been "an outspoken supporter" of Hillary Clinton during the presidential campaign, the Times reported, and Clinton had even held a fundraiser at a performance of "Hamilton."

Her positions that it ought to be legal to kill a child right up to the moment of birth and that government has the power to force Catholic nuns to provide insurance for abortion-inducing drugs apparently created no anxiety among the executive command of "Hamilton" -- nor did it disturb their celebrated concern for human rights.


But having Pence bring some family members to watch the show was different. It was traumatic.

''We had to ask ourselves, how do we cope with this?'' Seller told the Times. ''Our cast could barely go on stage the day after the election. The election was painful and crushing to all of us here."

He threw the smallest of concessions to the newly elected vice president. "We are honored that Mr. Pence attended the show," he told the Times, "and we had to use this opportunity to express our feelings."

Actor Dixon explained to CBS his role in this drama -- and how he was cast for the part.

"Why you?" Charlie Rose asked him. "In other words, did you ask to do it, to deliver the message?"

"No, I did not," Dixon said. "The producer, Jeffrey Seller, called me about an hour, an hour and a half, before the curtain, and said that this is something that we thought we wanted to do and asked me if I would be willing to do it. I am not sure why they decided to ask me, but I was happy to."

Dixon did not believe he would be speaking merely for the creator, producer and director of the show, but also for the cast.

"I was honored to represent our cast and our show that way," he said.

Dixon, too, said the statement was initially drafted by the creator, producer, and director of the show.


"They shared it with me," Dixon said. "I read it to the cast, and then I myself and a few other castmates--"

Rose interrupted him: "So, they wrote it, and then you shared it with the cast, and said: Everybody stand behind this and--"

"Well, and then after that," Dixon said, "some of the other cast members and myself made some adjustments to it and then we went out and made the statement after the show."

Before he did, Dixon called on the audience to record what he said to Pence and to publish it.

''I encourage everybody to pull out your phones and tweet and post because this message needs to be spread far and wide," he said on the recording posted by the Associated Press.

"We, sir, we are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that you and your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir," said Dixon as the cast stood literally arm in arm behind him. "But we truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf all of us. All of us. Again, we truly thank you for sharing this show, this wonderful American story told by a diverse group of men and women of different colors, creeds and orientations."


But were these Broadway actors -- all standing dutifully at attention as one of them read a statement initially drafted by their employers -- a truly diverse group?

In their political views -- or at least in the political views they were expressing at this moment at their place of employment -- they were not even as diverse as the Americans who bought tickets to their show and who applauded Mike Pence when he walked through the door.

The Broadway branch of the liberal establishment is just like the media branch -- or the branch on Capitol Hill.

To belong you must conform.

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