Steven Van Zandt: ‘Hamilton’ Cast Should Apologize for ‘Bullying’ Mike Pence

Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions

E Street Band guitarist Steven Van Zandt has called on the cast of the Broadway show Hamilton to apologize to Mike Pence for what he described as their “bullying” of the Vice President-elect during a performance in New York City Friday night.

In a series of Twitter messages on Saturday, Van Zandt said the cast of the 11-time Tony-winning play “made a mistake” and had set a “terrible precedent” for the theater when they addressed Pence directly from the stage toward the end of Friday night’s performance.

At the end of a show which saw Pence booed loudly at various points, actor Brandon Victor Dixon, who plays former vice president Aaron Burr, read aloud a message to the future vice president: “We, sir, 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,” the actor said.

The brief remarks were reportedly written by Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, director Thomas Kail and producer Jeffrey Seller.

But on Twitter Saturday, Van Zandt — who says he could not “disagree more with everything Pence represents” — called the actors’ actions “completely inappropriate.”

“When artists perform the venue becomes your home. The audience are your guests,” he wrote. “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.”

“You don’t single out an audience member and embarrass him from the stage,” the guitarist added. “A terrible precedent to set.”

In a tweet on Saturday, President-elect Donald Trump similarly requested an apology from the show’s cast: “The Theater must always be a safe and special place,” Trump wrote. “The cast of Hamilton was very rude last night to a very good man, Mike Pence. Apologize!”

The core cast of Hamilton, including Miranda, had been vocal supporters of Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential race. In October, Miranda and actress Renee Elise Goldsberry headline a “Broadway for Hillary” fundraiser in New York alongside comedian Billy Crystal.

Clinton took in a performance of the hit show in July, just hours after she was grilled by federal investigators about her use of a private email server while she was Secretary of State. Clinton and her husband, former president Bill Clinton, later met with Miranda backstage.

Read the rest of Van Zandt’s tweets below:

Follow Daniel Nussbaum on Twitter: @dznussbaum


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