‘Hamilton’ team responds to unauthorized performance by church in Texas

TEXAS– A church in Texas played “Hamilton” this weekend, but the team behind the Tony-winning production say it shouldn’t have happened.

“‘Hamilton’ does not grant any amateur or professional licenses for stage productions and has not granted any to The Door Church,” Shane Marshall Brown, a spokesperson for ‘Hamilton,’ said Monday in a statement to CNN.

Officials at the musical were unaware of the ‘unauthorized staging’ until the day after the first of two planned church performances and sent a cease and desist letter, added the spokesperson.

The Door, a church in McAllen, a town in southern Texas, has been allowed to go ahead with its second scheduled performance, with conditions including that the show will not be livestreamed, recorded or shared on social media. in the form of a photo or video, depending on the statement.

The Door performed “Hamilton” on August 5 and 6 with edited content that included lyrical references to Jesus and Christianity throughout, according to footage from the production shared on social media. A sermon reportedly delivered to the public also compared homosexuality to drug addiction, according to the video.

In an additional statement provided to CNN on Monday evening, the spokesperson said they were unaware of “significant changes to the show or that there would be a sermon at the end” when they allowed Saturday’s performance to move forward.

“We have reserved all our rights and are considering how to proceed based on what we have learned,” the spokesperson said. “The Hamilton family represents tolerance, compassion, inclusivity, and certainly LGBTQ+ rights. We are in the process of reviewing unauthorized script changes to determine further action.”

CNN’s attempts to reach The Door for comment over the weekend and Monday went unanswered.

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony, Grammy and Emmy hit that tells the story of “10 dollar founding father” Alexander Hamilton and his contemporaries with a cast mostly made up of people of color.

It won both the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Tony for Best Musical, and its producers launched productions on Broadway, Chicago and San Francisco, among other cities, not to mention its multiple touring companies. It is not available for licensing to theater companies.

Under copyright law, churches have an exemption that allows them to perform copyrighted music during church services, but this exemption does not allow streaming or distribution of such performances and does not extend to any other public performance outside of the Service.

Much of the footage from the church’s first “Hamilton” performance has been removed from The Door’s social media accounts, following demands to cease and desist from the production. But some clips were kept online and shared by Hemant Mehta, writer and atheist advocate.

In one clip, a character appears to be reading the Bible as Hamilton is in crisis. The character tells him that “God is the only one who can help you right now”.

In another clip, an actor playing Eliza Schuyler sings, “My hope is in Jesus. If you could give him a chance today, that would be enough.”

Other footage shared by Mehta reportedly shows The Door pastor Victor Lopez addressing the audience on stage, with “Hamilton” sets behind him, and he says, “Maybe you’re struggling with alcohol, drugs , homosexuality. Maybe you’re struggling with other things in life, your finances, whatever, your relationships — God can help you tonight.”

‘Hamilton’ creator Lin-Manuel Miranda is a strong supporter of the LGBTQ+ community and used his 2016 Tony Awards acceptance speech to read a sonnet that discussed the shooting at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando , which killed 50 people hours before the Price Show.

Miranda has not individually commented on the unauthorized production.

CNN attempted to reach Lopez for comment.

Some art critics who were not committed to “Hamilton” took issue with McAllen Church’s unauthorized production and changes to its text.

Howard Sherman, an arts administrator and writer who was one of the first users to share production news widely, says the artists’ rights behind “Hamilton” have been violated.

“The work of Lin Manuel (sic), Tommy Kail, Alex Lacamoire, Andy Blankenbuehler, David Korins and others may not be taken for free or manipulated to send further messages,” he wrote. “I respect all religions, but I can’t respect The Door McAllen for stealing material to serve their own purposes.”

The “Hamilton” spokesperson’s statement thanked the show’s “devoted fans” for “bringing this to our attention.”


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