On Saturday evening, fans of Broadway’s smash hit “Hamilton” poured into downtown Chicago’s PrivateBank Theatre for a showing put on by the musical’s traveling cast.
They were not throwing away their shot.
Presumably, everyone was excited to see the show — tickets, after all, soared to more than $600 for some seats.
John Palmer, 56, was presumably not in this number, though.
In the song “Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down),” the cast sings “Immigrants / We get the job done.” When the cast reached this line at the Chicago show, the crowd cheered, as has become commonplace.
Palmer, by contrast, stood and yelled profanities, audience member Brea Hayes told the Chicago Tribune. He continued ranting for two songs, according to Chicago Tribune reporter Jodi Cohen, who happened to be in attendance.
During the song “Dear Theodosia,” Palmer allegedly yelled, “We won. You Lost. Get over it. F— you.” He was escorted from the theater with little incident, although he allegedly initially resisted.
“He started raising his voice and throwing up middle fingers at anyone who looked at him, including me and my best friend,” audience member Ken Keacher told pop culture website Pajiba.
Kate Hoyt, who was with Keacher, said, “He was saying things like, ‘We won. Trump is president. Get over it.’ At some point Ken [Keacher] leaned into the aisle to try and tell him to leave and the guy then put up both his fists and said, ‘Let’s go, Democrats. I’ll kill you all.’ ”
Venue staff members told Broadway World that he was intoxicated. Palmer was charged with one misdemeanor count of criminal trespass to land after causing a disturbance at the performance and refusing to leave and has an initial court date set for Jan. 9, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
Audience members claimed the cast didn’t skip a beat — literally — at the disruption.
One performer from the show, Karen Olivo, who is portraying Angelica in the Chicago performances, tweeted about the cast’s generally lauded response to the heckler.
This is why we train…so when the obstacles come we conquer them with skill and precision. #HamiltonCHI
— Karen Olivo (@Karenolivo) November 20, 2016
The timing of the disturbance suggested it could have been in response to the incident at Friday night’s performance of “Hamilton” on Broadway.
Vice President-elect Mike Pence was in attendance, and after the show, the cast spoke directly to him from the stage. Amid audience boos, Brandon Victor Dixon, who portrayed Aaron Burr, pulled a piece of paper from his pocket and read a message:
Vice President-elect Pence, we welcome you, and we truly thank you for joining us here at ‘Hamilton: An American Musical.’ We really do,” Dixon said to further applause. “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. 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. Again, we truly thank you truly for seeing this show, this wonderful American story told by a diverse group of men and women of different colors, creeds and orientations.
In response, President-elect Donald Trump tweeted that the musical is “overrated” and its cast “rude.” He demanded that they apologize.
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 19, 2016
The cast and producers of Hamilton, which I hear is highly overrated, should immediately apologize to Mike Pence for their terrible behavior
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 20, 2016
Pence, on the other hand, appeared on “Fox News Sunday” and told Chris Wallace that he wasn’t offended. If anything, he expressed appreciation.
“I nudged my kids and reminded them that’s what freedom sounds like,” Pence said. “I did hear what was said from the stage, and I can tell you, I wasn’t offended by what was said. I’ll leave to others whether that was the appropriate venue to say it.”
The hubbub around the speech has led to a variety of reactions. Some of them, such as what allegedly happened in Chicago, were deemed criminal. Some were fueled by social media, where #BoycottHamilton was trending by Saturday. (The idea of boycotting a show that’s sold out for nearly a year mostly led to mockery.)
Finally, some of the fallout has been slightly humorous, such as what occurred in Canada. (That’s right — not even our neighbors to the north are safe from the collision of two of America’s most hotly discussed topics of 2016 — “Hamilton” and Trump.)
Hamilton Theatre Inc. in Hamilton, Ontario, staged a performance of “The Toxic Avenger” on Friday night. Riane Leonard, who was running the lights, checked her phone after the show to find a string of tweets directed at the small company.
Excited, she looked through them. Quickly, her stomach tied itself into knots.
“The first one was something like, ‘I’m never supporting Hamilton Theatre again!’ ” she told CBC. She said she thought, ” ‘Oh, sweet God, what did we do that was so wrong?”
Slowly, it dawned on her.
“Dozens of angry Americans tagged the Hamilton theatre company’s Twitter account instead of the official ‘Hamilton’ musical account,” Leonard told CBC.
Although the tweets led to a moment of panic, Leonard said she supports the cast’s decision.
“They had an opportunity to have their voice heard by someone who is very high up in their government,” she said. “I think it would’ve been a missed opportunity if not.”
With that in mind, she doesn’t mind the mix-up.
“If we helped take any of the heat off our friends on Broadway, we’re here to help,” she said.
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