VP-elect Mike Pence downplays flap over Hamilton cast's appeal on diversity

The cast of Hamilton deliver their message as Mike Pence is leaving in a still from online footage.
The cast of Hamilton deliver their message as Mike Pence is leaving in a still from online footage.PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM YOUTUBE

NEW YORK (AFP) - The US vice president-elect insisted Sunday (Nov 20) he was not offended when the cast of the Broadway hit Hamilton expressed worries to him that Donald Trump might not respect US racial, cultural and social diversity.

Mike Pence clearly sought to defuse the controversy over the Friday night performance he attended in New York - an incident that prompted the president-elect himself to demand an apology over what he saw as rude behaviour toward Pence, who was also booed by some in the audience as he entered the theatre with his family.

"I wasn't offended by what was said. I will leave to others whether that was the appropriate venue to say it," Pence said on Fox News Sunday.

But even as Pence tried to end the flap, Trump kept at it.

Trump fired off another tweet again demanding an apology from the cast and dismissing the awarding winning musical as apparently not that great.

"The cast and producers of Hamilton, which I hear is highly overrated, should immediately apologize to Mike Pence for their terrible behavior," Trump tweeted early Sunday morning.

Pence differed, saying "If you haven't seen the show, go and see it." The wildly popular play, which won 11 Tony Awards in June, follows young colonial rebels who became America's founding fathers, celebrating diversity and immigrants' contribution to the nation.

The show's lead actor, Javier Munoz, is openly gay, HIV positive and a cancer survivor.

Among other concerns, activists worry that the Trump's administration will be hostile to gay rights.

Brandon Victor Dixon, who plays vice president Aaron Burr, read a statement to Pence during the curtain call that echoed some of the main concerns critics have voiced since the Republican firebrand won the election on November 8.

Thanking Pence him for attending the performance, Dixon asked him to "hear us out." "We, sir, 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, sir," Dixon said.

"But we truly hope this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and work on behalf of all of us. All of us."