Vice President-elect Mike Pence went to see the hit Broadway musical Hamilton last week, setting off a chain of events that lead to a big headache for a small community theater in Montana.
At the end of Friday night’s performance in New York, actor Brandon Victor Dixon, who plays Vice President Aaron Burr, called on Pence to work for all Americans.
“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 that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf all of us.”
The next day, Denise Rose, executive director of the Hamilton Players Inc., in Hamilton, Mont., awoke to find her world (at least on Twitter) turned upside down.
“My Twitter account was going crazy,” Rose told the Missoulian newspaper. “I thought, ‘It’s too early.’ ” The newspaper wrote:
Rose said she discovered her phone was buzzing from the wrath of people 2,415 miles away angered by the interaction between the musical Hamilton’s actor and Pence.
The two Twitter monikers are similar – @hamiltonplayers compared to @hamiltonmusical. But the number of Twitter followers is not: 47 for the Montana theater, 451,000 for the Broadway musical.
Rose told the paper: “My phone would go crazy in clumps of 10 to 15, then an hour later all the re-tweets started again. … We were getting tweets calling us racist, untalented, disrespectful and more.”
The online commenters were non-stop.
The Missoulian quoted tweets directed at the tiny playhouse, including:
“The cast of your show is disgusting! Rude to a wonderful man & his family!”
“Very contentious example for social discourse. You’re forcing public to believe one way.”
“What a DISGRACE by the actors & writer BASHING a great American who loves his country!”
Some apologized for their mistaken tweets later. But others, not satisfied, took the critique even further. Here’s more from the Missoulian:
What alarmed Rose was when outraged people followed the link to the Hamilton Playhouse Facebook page and started giving one star reviews and nasty posts.
One Facebook post said, “Really disgusting what your cast and crew did to Presidential Elect …Mike Pence last night. It’s one thing to be rude to someone like Pence, whom can forgive and forget, but it’s another thing to insult him when his boss Donald Trump NEVER forgives and forgets. Would never support anything these disgraceful actors and crew do in the future on any other projects they may work on. Doubt they will be getting much work after this anyway….you just offended 50% of the country just like Hillary did and look what happen to her….”
Soon, Rose decided to start replying to some of the comments. She told the Missoulian:
“I said, ‘you know you’re talking to a small non-profit community theater across the country in Hamilton, Montana.’ I was able to get them to remove the bad posts, but it’s taken a lot of time and energy.”
She said this approach has led to apologies and nice comments on the theater’s Facebook page. A post from Tuesday says, “It appears we have weathered the storm! It’s been 24 hours since our last twitter nastygram and all the reviews made in error have been removed/deleted by their authors.”
One last time: Hamilton Players ≠ Hamilton the musical.