Actors in Broadway shows often fall into a rhythm. There are eight performances every week, sometimes there are two shows a day, and it is always, always fast-paced. Theater in New York never stops moving. Yet, during Wednesday’s curtain call for Frozen, there was a disruption to the pattern. As the actors came out to bow, a man in the front row of the theater stood and raised a pro-Trump flag into the air, blocking the actors.
That was when actor Tim Hughes reached down and simply plucked the flag out of the man’s hands and threw it off stage into the wings. The banner was supportive of Trump running for re-election in 2020.
Though recording is not allowed of any theatrical performance without explicit permission, somehow this moment was caught on film. Hughes himself took to Facebook to share the video and the experience.
“What does it say about our country and politics when a man at the show tonight felt the need to protest Disney’s Frozen on Broadway with a pro Trump flag?? How frightening is it that our show’s messages of love, acceptance, and diversity have become the opposition to supporting Trump?” the actor wrote.
Hughes received an outpouring of support for his action, with fans and supporters alike applauding his actions. Many fans called him a hero. Others thanked him for keeping the curtain call a time to honor actors and their work. Detractors, however, argued that curtain calls had become political arenas ever since the cast of Hamilton had used their curtain call to speak directly to U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, who had come to see the show. Others argued that it was the right of artists to use the space to make announcements, not the audience’s. Viewers of the video were also delighted by the truly surprised expression of the protester as the flag was yanked out of his hands.
The show has already experienced some political backlash in the past when actor Jelani Alladin, who is black, was cast as Kristoff in the production. The character of Kristoff was portrayed as white with blonde hair in the film, and so many fans of the show were upset to see a “deviation” of the character in the musical version.
Hughes plays Pabbie, the leader of the trolls, in Frozen. In the past, he was on Broadway in Chaplin and was also Strong Man in the film The Greatest Showman on Earth, which was released in 2017.