Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda has responded publicly to a Texas church’s highly criticized production of Hamilton that was live-streamed earlier this month.
The Tony, Emmy and Grammy winner shared a brief statement on Wednesday after the Door Christian Fellowship Ministries in McAllen, Texas, performed the musical last weekend. Those performances — including one which was live-streamed and published online in a now-removed video, according to NBC Out — featured unauthorized changes to the script and has been criticized for statements made by the church’s pastor in a post-show sermon.
“Grateful to all of you who reached out about this illegal, unauthorized production. Now lawyers do their work,” Miranda said in a tweet, which responded to a statement by the Dramatists Guild over the southern church’s use of the copyrighted material. “And always grateful to the @dramatistsguild, who have the backs of writers everywhere, be it your first play or your fiftieth.”
The statement from the Dramatists Guild not only condemned the McAllen church’s reproduction of the award-winning musical without a license, but its decision to do so with “changed lyrics and added text without permission.”
“We hold up the Door McAllen Church’s brazen infringement to shine a light on the problematic pattern of some theatrical organizations performing authors’ work without a license and rewriting the text without authorial consent. No organization, professional, amateur, or religious, is exempt from these laws,” the statements says. “No writer’s work, whether they are a student who has just written their 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 consent.”
The McAllen church performed the musical twice — on Aug. 5 and then again on Aug. 6 — with the first performance live-streamed, according to the Onstage Blog, which was the first to report. The next proceeded under the guidance that no photos or videos be taken, it wasn’t posted online and the church stopped performing the production, according to The Dallas Morning News who spoke to a Hamilton rep on Sunday.
Clips of the performance show scenes, not in the original musical, of characters making references to confessing and repenting to the “Lord and savior” while the post-show sermon, suggests being gay is a sin and something an individual may “struggle with,” alongside substance addiction, “broken marriages” or poor finances. Those minutes-long clips were shared online by several verified Twitter accounts on Sunday.
“He knows exactly what you’ve gone through,” Lopez says in one video. “You’ve gone through maybe broken marriages. Maybe you struggle with alcohol, with drugs — with homosexuality — maybe you struggle with other things in life, your finances, whatever, relationships, God can help you tonight. He wants to forgive you for your sins.”
In a statement to the Dallas newspaper, the Door Christian Fellowship’s pastor Roman Gutierrez told the newspaper that “everyone is always welcome” and the church is not anti-LGBTQ. He also, according to the outlet, said that his church and RVG productions, which produced the show, acquired legal permission by members of the Hamilton production team to do so.
In a statement provided to both the Morning News and The Washington Post, Shane Marshall Brown, a representative for the musical, said the show was “unaware of this unauthorized staging of Hamilton” and that the musical “does not grant amateur or professional licenses for any stage productions and did not grant one to The Door Church.” The production also issued a cease-and-desist letter for the unauthorized use of the musical’s intellectual property over the weekend.