The Texas church that recently took an unauthorized “shot” at the hit Broadway musical “Hamilton” has apologized and agreed to pay damages to the show’s creators. The “Hamilton” team has indicated it will donate those unspecified damages to a gay-rights organization in the church’s community.
In a statement posted to Instagram Tuesday (August 23), The Door Christian Fellowship McAllen Church apologizes to playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda, producers, and “others who contributed their intellectual property” to the original show. The church admits it didn’t have or request a license to stage or alter the musical, which it performed on August 5 and 6.
As ChurchLeaders reported, The Door McAllen changed some lyrics to incorporate the gospel message. A post-show sermon indicated that homosexuality is a sin that some people might “struggle with,” comparing it to drug addiction. The preacher, identified as Associate Pastor Victor Lopez, told listeners that God “wants to forgive you for your sins.”
Legacy of Church’s Unauthorized ‘Hamilton’ Performance
Roman Gutierrez, pastor of The Door McAllen, apparently penned Tuesday’s statement but is not specifically named. “We acknowledge there are lawful avenues to obtain a license to stage properties which we did not pursue,” he writes. “And it is never permissible to alter an artistic work such as Hamilton without legal permission.”
The blockbuster musical, which won 11 Tony Awards and a Pulitzer Prize, explores the life and legacy of founding father Alexander Hamilton. As for the “legacy” of what some people dubbed #Scamilton? Pastor Gutierrez writes: “Our ministry will use this moment as a learning opportunity about protected artistic works and intellectual property.”
The Door says it will “never stage the performance again,” will “destroy” any video or images of the unauthorized performances, and will ask church members to do the same.
‘Hamilton’ Team: We Stand for ‘Inclusivity’
After becoming aware of the unauthorized performance, attorneys for the “Hamilton” team issued a cease-and-desist letter to the church. Miranda thanked fans for bringing the violation to his attention.
Earlier this month, a spokesperson for “Hamilton” said the show does not grant amateur or professional licenses for any stage productions. He added: “The Hamilton family stands for tolerance, compassion, inclusivity and certainly LGBTQ+ rights.”
According to reports, the Hamilton team plans to donate the monetary damages to the South Texas Equality Project. The organization advocates for LGBTQ rights in the Rio Grande Valley, where The Door McAllen is located.
Arts administrator Howard Sherman, one of the people who sounded the alarm about the unauthorized performance, says, “I respect all faiths, but I cannot respect The Door McAllen for stealing material to serve their own purposes.” Some commentators warned that #Scamilton is a sign of a larger right-wing effort to “rewrite” U.S. history.
People who saw clips of the church’s unauthorized “Hamilton” performance describe one scene where a character holds a Bible and tells the title character, “God is the only one that can help you right now.” In another scene, an actor sings, “My hope is in Jesus. If you could just give him a chance today, that would be enough.”