Mike Pence Inspired Gay Broadway Musical Set in Indiana, Playwright Says

A playwright, who co-created a Broadway musical depicting the relationship of a high school lesbian couple, said that Vice President Mike Pence inspired the location of the show.

Chad Begielin—co-writer and lyricist for "The Prom"—invited Pence to check out the musical because its Indiana setting was inspired by him. "I think you really need to come and see 'The Prom,' and also, we set it in Indiana because of you," he said in the invitation provided to NBC News. "Our show isn't about ostracizing people."

"Our show is not about telling people, 'You are wrong.' Again, it's about listening and empathy and accepting, and so my invite [to Pence] would just be like, 'Listen to our show. It's about love.'"

The show claims to be the first Broadway musical to feature a lesbian couple. It tells the story of an Indiana high school in a small town that cancels it's prom after 17-year-old Emma attempts to bring her girlfriend Alyssa to the affair.

Although the tale is fictional, its creators say "The Prom's" synopsis was inspired by similar real-life events in the news and its location by Pence, who served as Indiana's governor from 2013 to 2017.

"[Theater producer Jack Viertel] had seen several instances where, you know, same-sex couples were banned from their prom," Beguelin told NBC News. "The depressing thing is, they keep sort of happening... Every once in a while a few months will go by, and then someone will email us another, you know, high school that decided that no gays or lesbians can come to the prom. You know, it's sad that it still happens."

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U.S. Vice President Mike Pence attends during the 6th ASEAN US Summit on the sidelines of the 33rd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and Related Meetings during the East Asia Summit on the sidelines of the 33rd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and Related Meetings on November 15, 2018 in Singapore. Getty/Ore Huiying

Pence has been repeatedly criticized by the LGBTQ community for supporting anti-LGBTQ groups and legislation. In September, he became the first vice president to address the Christian activist group Family Research Council's annual Values Voter Summit, which the Southern Poverty Law Center deemed an "anti-LGBT hate group." And in 2015, while he was governor of Indiana, Pence signed into law a controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act that some considered would sanction discrimination against the LGBTQ community.

Beguelin, who is openly gay, believes the show is powerful enough to reach Americans who do not understand or agree with LGBTQ rights. "We get so many people that after the show come up to us and say, 'You changed my point of view,'" he said. "There are some people that are like, 'I was that homophobic parent, and I didn't know what the show is about and now I've really got to sort of reexamine my point of view.'"

Mike Pence Inspired Gay Broadway Musical Set in Indiana, Playwright Says | U.S.