Metro Weekly

Brandon Victor Dixon lights up the Kennedy Center in “Next to Normal”

The Tony and Emmy nominee delivered a notable speech to Vice President Mike Pence days after the 2016 election

Brandon Victor Dixon

A few days after the most polarizing presidential election in modern times, newly elected Vice President Mike Pence thought he’d step out for an edifying night of theater. By all accounts, he got what he came for seeing Hamilton. At the final curtain, the cast assembled on stage, and on their behalf, Brandon Victor Dixon, starring in the role of Aaron Burr, addressed Pence with heartfelt words jointly written by the show’s creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, along with the cast and producer Jeffrey Seller.

Dixon spoke for many in the room and around the nation. “[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,” he said to the Vice President. “We hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us.”

The audience applauded heartily. Trump, predictably, complained the following day that the cast had “harassed” his number two. “[I’m glad the producers] decided to do it,” says Dixon, who had no idea he’d be the chosen messenger until just prior to the evening’s performance. “And I’m glad they chose that very open, positive, nonpartisan message.”

The Gaithersburg, Maryland native is a Tony nominee for originating the role of Harpo in Broadway’s The Color Purple and an Emmy nominee for his superb performance as Judas Iscariot in NBC’s 2018 televised musical Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert. “I love to do roles that can make people feel differently about characters they think they know,” says Dixon, who is co-starring in the Kennedy Center’s Broadway Center Stage production of the Tony and Pulitzer-winning musical Next to Normal. Appearing in the semi-staged concert alongside Tony-winner Rachel Bay Jones (Dear Evan Hansen), Dixon proudly represents his family who still reside in the area, and he continues to represent for the right of citizens to freely address their elected leaders.

“We have to remove ourselves from this idea that our elected officials are nobility, or somewhere stuck behind a veil,” he says. “Everything we do as individuals in this world is political and people need to start to embrace that. [Voters] must take the opportunity — any opportunity — they can to address our elected representatives. You can do it clearly so that they hear you. And we need to do it with respect, because we all need to respect each other, even as we discuss our differences.”

Broadway Center Stage: Next to Normal runs January 29 to February 3 at the Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater. Tickets are $69 to $215. Call 202-467-4600 or visit www.kennedy-center.org.


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André Hereford covers arts and entertainment for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at ahereford@metroweekly.com. Follow him on Twitter at @here4andre.

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