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After Performing Unauthorized Hamilton Play, Texas Church Apologizes As Damages Are Issued

Lin-Manuel Miranda in Hamilton
(Image credit: Disney)

After receiving backlash from Hamilton's creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, the Dramatists Guild and others, the Christian Fellowship McAllen Church has released an apology and agreed to pay damages.  The church was called out for putting on a “Christianized” version of the hit musical Hamilton. They altered the original text by changing lyrics to be biblical references and at the end, a pastor gave a sermon comparing homosexuality to drug addiction. 

In a statement, Lin-Manuel Miranda said he was "grateful" for everyone who got the "illegal, unauthorized production" on his radar, also noting on Twitter  "now lawyers do their work." It looks like that's exactly what happened, as the church has been issued fines and released an apology on Instagram:

On behalf of The Door Christian Fellowship McAllen Church, I would like to personally apologize to the creator of Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda, the producers of Hamilton, and the numerous others who contributed their intellectual property to Hamilton, for staging an unauthorized production of Hamilton that infringed on the rights and copyrights of many.

The post goes on to say that the church did not ask for a license to produce the show and did not get permission to alter the work. They acknowledged that what they did violated federal copyright law and agreed to never stage a performance of the production again and destroy all video or sound recordings of it. They also said they will pay the damages issued to them.  

A statement was also issued by the Dramatists Guild, which represents playwrights, composers and lyricists. That group posted on Twitter to share its point of view on the matter, as well. The longer statement read that Door McAllen Church's "infringement" was "brazen" and shone a light on a recurring issue in the industry. The crux of their statement being:  

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.

Under federal copyright law, churches are allowed to perform copyrighted music during services. However, this does not apply to public performances, making their production of Hamilton subject to damages. 

According to The New York Times, Hamilton spokesperson Shane Marshall Brown all the damages will be donated to the South Texas Equality Project, which supports the local LGBTQ+ community. 

The smash Broadway hit opened in 2016 and is still open in New York and has three touring companies that travel around North America. In the summer of 2020, a recording of the show with the original cast was released on Disney+, which helped increase demand for the live show. Along, with the success of Hamilton, many of the stars including Miranda, the show's creator, have found great success. Miranda has written the music for Disney’s hit movies Moana and Encanto and is responsible for the most popular Disney song “We Don’t Talk About Bruno." 

Hamilton can be viewed as it was intended with a Disney+ subscription or live on stage in New York City or any of the cities the tours visit. 

Riley Utley
Weekend Editor

Riley Utley is a Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. She spent many years working in local journalism across the country writing about art, news and sports. One of her favorite films is When Harry Met Sally and she walks around constantly quoting Ted Lasso.