Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda has publicly responded to a Texas church’s highly criticized production Hamilton which was streamed live earlier this month.
The Tony, Emmy and Grammy winner shared a brief statement Wednesday after the Door Christian Fellowship Ministries in McAllen, Texas, performed the musical last weekend. Those performances — including one that was streamed live and published online in a now-deleted video, according to NBC off – contained unauthorized changes to the script and has been criticized for statements made by the church pastor in a sermon after the show.
“Thank you to everyone who has been in touch regarding this illegal, unauthorized production. Now lawyers are doing their job,” Miranda said in a tweet, who responded to a statement from the Dramatists Guild about the Southern Church’s use of the copyrighted material. “And always grateful to the @dramatistsguild, which has writers’ backs everywhere, whether it’s your first play or your fiftieth.”
The Dramatists Guild statement condemned not only the McAllen Church’s unlicensed reproduction of the award-winning musical, but also its decision to do so with “altered lyrics and added lyrics without permission.”
“We uphold the brutal breach by the Door McAllen Church to shed light on the problematic pattern of some theater organizations performing the work of authors without a license and rewriting the text without the permission of the permission. No organization, professional, amateur or religious, is exempt from these laws,” the statements said. “No work by a writer, be it a student who has just written his first play, or Lin-Manuel Miranda, can be performed without their permission. And it is never okay to change the words, lyrics or notes without their express permission.”
The McAllen Church performed the musical twice — on Aug. 5 and then again on Aug. 6 — with the first performance streamed live, according to the Blog on stage, who reported first. The next one was under guidance that no photos or videos were taken, it was not posted online, and the church stopped running production, according to The Dallas Morning News who spoke to a Hamilton rep on Sunday.
Clips from the performance show scenes, not in the original musical, of characters referring to confession and repentance to the “Lord and Saviour,” while the sermon after the show suggests that being gay is a sin and something an individual can deal with struggling,” in addition to substance abuse, “broken marriages” or bad finances. Those minute-long clips were shared online by multiple verified Twitter bills on Sunday.
“He knows exactly what you’ve been through,” Lopez says in a video. “You may have experienced broken marriages. Maybe you are struggling with alcohol, with drugs – with homosexuality – maybe you are struggling with other things in life, your finances, whatever, relationships, God can help you tonight. He wants to forgive you your sins.”
In a statement to the Dallas newspaper, the pastor of the Door Christian Fellowship, Roman Gutierrez, told the paper that “everyone is always welcome” and that the church is not anti-LGBTQ. He also said, according to the outlet, that his church and RVG productions, which produced the show, had received legal approval from members of the Hamilton production team to do this.
In a statement to both the Morning news and The Washington PostShane Marshall Brown, a representative for the musical, said the show was “not aware of this unauthorized staging of” Hamilton‘ and that the musical ‘does not grant amateur or professional licenses to stage productions, nor to The Door Church’. The production also issued a cease and desist letter this weekend for the unauthorized use of the musical’s intellectual property.