The BBC spoke with Kevin Shen, an American actor and producer based in London, to give his take on what happened with the cast of the New York show ‘Hamilton’ and Vice President-elect Mike Pence. On Friday, actor Brandon Dixon, who plays the part of vice-president Aaron Burr in the Hamilton show, took out a piece of paper and read from the stage as Pence was leaving after the performance.
The speech from the paper was as follows:
“Vice-president elect Pence, we welcome you and we truly thank you for joining us at Hamilton: An American Musical. We really do.
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, sir.
But we truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and 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.”
The way Pence was called out at a theatre production has caused controversy. President-elect Donald Trump tweeted “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.” Even many who didn’t vote for Pence, like musician Steven Van Zandt, felt this was inappropriate. “A guy comes to a Broadway show for a relaxing night out. Instead he gets a lecture from the stage! Not a level playing field. It’s bullying. You don’t single out an audience member and embarrass him from the stage. A terrible precedent to set,” he said.
As for actor Kevin Shen, the man the BBC chose to interview while giving the perky headline “It’s ‘exciting’ Hamilton cast was able to talk to VP-elect Mike Pence” – this is some of what he had to say:
“If you’re Mike Pence and you’re walking into a show that is celebrating diversity and immigrants, and a cast full of people of color, and members of the LGBTQ community in a city like New York city, after having run that campaign that you ran that was based on a lot of things that were not those things, on xenophobia, and legitimizing hate and racism, like, I’d imagine you’d expect it walking into that theatre, wouldn’t you?”
Full video of the BBC clip of Kevin Shen here:
Not everyone agrees with Kevin Shen. A youtuber called Punkster Daddy commented “Why would they feel threatened? Are they ILLEGAL immigrants, no? Then there is no reason to feel threatened or boo the man. No one was running for office on deporting LEGAL immigrants. Keep it up BBC, this is an example as to why the Left lost in America, propagating nonsense.”
Another poster said “I am a Hispanic woman who voted Trump… It’s offensive and Trump didn’t run a racist campaign. It was clearly media setting that narrative. I am against illegal immigration as are many other Hispanics here.”
Mike Pence himself was a good sport. Regarding the Hamilton crowd’s reaction to him he said “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 also praised the performance of the cast, and said it was a great show. “I did hear what was said from the stage and I can tell you, I wasn’t offended by what was said, ” he explained. “I’ll leave it to others whether that was the appropriate venue to say it.”