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Texas Church Apologizes, Promises to Pay Damages Over Unauthorized 'Hamilton' Performance

The wildly popular, Tony Award winning Musical “Hamilton” has come back into the news after The Door McAllen, a nondenominational Christian Church in McAllen, Texas, received a cease-and-desist letter from the Hamilton legal team. The letter was prompted by The Door’s unauthorized production of the hit musical, which they streamed across their social media.

Under United States copyright law, churches are allowed to preform material that would otherwise be protected by copyright during their services, however, churches may not distribute those performances online. The Door livestreamed its first of two planned performances of the play, after which the Hamilton legal team sent the cease-and desist letter. The letter indicated that the church could continue with its second planned performance, per copyright law, if it was not shared online.

However, issues surrounding The Door’s performance did not end there. After the cease-and-desist letter was sent clips surfaced of The Door’s first livestreamed performance. The clips showed that the church had altered the musical in various ways, including adding lyrics about Jesus, omitting lyrics with profanity or reference to sex, and adding a scene where Alexander Hamilton accepts Jesus as his savior. Further, the performance ended with a sermon which listed “homosexuality” amongst a list of “struggles” God could help people overcome. After these clips of the performance circulated online the Hamilton team quickly responded, rejecting the anti-LGBTQ messaging, and protesting The Door’s second planned performance. Hamilton Spokesperson Shane Marshall Brown said in a statement, “The Hamilton family stands for tolerance, compassion, inclusivity and certainly LGBTQ+ rights” and that the team was “in the process of reviewing the unauthorized changes made to the script to determine further action.”

In response, The Door posted a message on their Instagram page apologizing to the Hamilton creators, admitting that they had infringed on their copyright and that the church did not have a license for their performance or for the changes they made to the play. In the statement, The Door also promised never to stage the performance again and to destroy any video and sound recordings or images of the unauthorized performances and rehearsals. Finally, The Door stated that it would be paying an undisclosed amount in damages to Hamilton. Hamilton has promised to donate all of the damages it will receive to the South Texas Equality Project, “a partnership of LGBTQIA+ organizations & individuals focused on advocacy and visibility of the LGBTQIA+ community” according to its website.

Authorized performances of Hamilton put on by the American Theatre Guild, the largest not-for-profit touring Broadway presenter in the United States, will be taking place at the Hult Center for the Performing Arts in Eugene, OR September 13-25, 2022. Find tickets here.

📸: Photo by Sudan Ouyang on Unsplash

See the original articles here: ‘Hamilton’ Team Protests After Church Production Adds Christian Themes (NYT), Texas Church that performed ‘Hamilton’ without permission apologizes and says it will pay damages (CNN)

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