US & Canada

Trump locks horns with Hamilton musical cast over Pence booing

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Media captionThe cast of the Broadway hit musical Hamilton address Mr Pence

US President-elect Donald Trump and the cast of Hamilton have traded barbs after his running mate was booed at a performance of the Broadway musical.

Donald Trump demanded an apology over a letter read out by a cast member to Mike Pence on Friday. It said "diverse America" was "alarmed and anxious" at the future administration.

Mr Trump tweeted that the cast had been "very rude" and harassed Mr Pence.

The cast member replied by denying that the "conversation" had been hostile.

Mr Pence was jeered by members of the audience before and during a performance in New York. Afterwards cast member Brandon Victor Dixon thanked Mr Pence for attending and read a letter to him on stage.

"We, sir, are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us," the letter read.

On Saturday Mr Trump tweeted: "Our wonderful future V.P. Mike Pence was harassed last night at the theater by the cast of Hamilton, cameras blazing. This should not happen!"

"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!"

Image copyright AP
Image caption The Richard Rodgers theatre was guarded by armed police

Mr Dixon reacted on Twitter by defending his cast mates.

"@realDonaldTrump conversation is not harassment sir," he wrote. "And I appreciate @mike_pence for stopping to listen."

Some Trump supporters called for people to boycott the show, using the Twitter hashtag #boycotthamilton. They were mocked in turn by other Twitter users, who pointed out the futility of attempting to boycott a show for which it is nearly impossible to get tickets.

Some sarcastically urged others to support the ban in the hope it would free up seats.

Image copyright Twitter

The row comes as Mr Trump meets one of his severest critics, one-time presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who is reported to be in line for the post of secretary of state in the new administration.

Mr Trump has settled several posts so far, a number of them controversial.

A staunch conservative, Mr Pence sparked an outcry as governor of Indiana earlier this year, when he signed a law critics said discriminated against the LGBT community by allowing businesses to refuse service over religious beliefs. He later amended the bill.

He is not the first high-profile politician to attend the hugely popular Hamilton, which tells the story of US founding father Alexander Hamilton.

President Barack Obama saw the musical last year and joined the cast backstage after the performance.

Hillary Clinton, who lost to Mr Trump in last week's election, also saw the show. She was supported by its creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, during her campaign.

What is harassment?

According to a definition by the American Civil Liberties Union, harassment can be any behaviour "written, verbal, electronic, or physical directed at an individual or group based on a characteristic - such as race, gender, or sexual orientation".

The Southern Poverty Law Center, an advocacy group, has recorded more than 700 such incidents across the US since the 8 November election.

While not every report was verified, the group says the data shows a clear spike in "hateful harassment and intimidation" targeted at immigrants, African Americans, Muslims, women, and in some cases Trump supporters.