The “Hamilton” Crew Responds to the Church’s Unauthorized Performance in Texas

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

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

Officials behind the musical only became aware of the “unauthorized staging” the day after the church’s first of two scheduled performances and sent out a cease and desist letter, the spokesman added.

The Door, a church in McAllen, a south Texas city, was allowed to go ahead with its planned second performance, under conditions including that the show not be live streamed, recorded, or shared in photo or video form on social media. according to 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 of the production shared on social media. A sermon reportedly delivered to the audience also compared homosexuality to drug addiction, according to the video.

In an additional statement to CNN late Monday, the announcer said they were unaware of “the extensive changes to the show or the sermon at the end” when they allowed Saturday’s performance.

“We have reserved all of our rights and are considering how to proceed based on what we have learned,” the spokesman said in a statement. “The Hamilton family stands for tolerance, compassion, inclusivity and certainly LGBTQ+ rights. We are in the process of reviewing the unauthorized changes to the script 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-winning hit, which retells the story of “$10 Founding Father” Alexander Hamilton and his contemporaries with a cast composed primarily of people of color.

It won both the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Tony for Best Musical, and its producers have embarked on productions on Broadway, Chicago and San Francisco, among others, not counting the numerous touring companies. It is not available for licensing to theater companies.

Under copyright law, churches have an exception that allows them to perform copyrighted music during services, but this exception does not allow streaming or distribution of those performances and does not extend to other public performances outside of services.

Much of the footage from the church’s first “Hamilton” performance has been removed from The Door’s social media accounts in accordance with the production’s cease and desist request. However, some clips were kept online and shared by Hemant Mehta, a writer and atheist.

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

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

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

Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda is a staunch supporter of the LGBTQ+ community and famously used his 2016 Tony Awards acceptance speech to read a sonnet themed about the shooting at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, at the hours 50 people were killed before the awards show.

Miranda has not commented individually on the unauthorized production.

CNN reached out to Lopez for comment.

Some art critics, uninterested in “Hamilton,” criticized McAllen Church’s unauthorized production and changes to its text.

Howard Sherman, an arts curator and writer who was one of the first users to share news about the production, said the rights of the artists behind “Hamilton” had been violated.

“The work of Lin Manuel (sic), Tommy Kail, Alex Lacamoire, Andy Blankenbuehler, David Korins and others cannot be taken for free or manipulated to send any other message,” he wrote. “I respect all faiths, but I can’t respect The Door McAllen for stealing material to serve their own ends.”

The statement from the “Hamilton” rep thanked the show’s “loyal fans” for “bringing this to our attention.”

The CNN Wire

& 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia company. All rights reserved. The “Hamilton” Crew Responds to the Church’s Unauthorized Performance in Texas

Laura Coffey

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