‘Hamilton’ team protests after church production adds Christian themes

Lin-Manuel Miranda (center) as Alexander Hamilton in the musical “Hamilton” in New York, July 11, 2015. (Photo: NYTimes)
Lawyers for the creators of “Hamilton,” the record-setting musical that remains a worldwide draw seven years after its Broadway debut, protested after a Texas church put on an unauthorized production this weekend. Church performers changed some lyrics and introduced Christian themes that were not part of the original.اضافة اعلان

A pastor at The Door McAllen, a nondenominational Christian church in McAllen, Texas, near the Mexican border, claimed on Sunday that “the ‘Hamilton’ team” had given the church a license to perform its version of the musical on Saturday and Sunday. But after the church posted footage of the production online, they “were immediately contacted by a lawyer from ‘Hamilton,’” who asked them to remove it, the pastor said.

The church complied, “and she gave us the OK to continue” on Sunday, the pastor said.

“We are very grateful for the ‘Hamilton’ team,” he said. “Thank you so much for entrusting us with such an amazing, amazing play, amen.”

But Shane Marshall Brown, a spokesman for “Hamilton,” said in a statement that the team behind the musical does not grant amateur or professional licenses, and had not done so for the church. Lawyers representing “Hamilton” sent it a cease-and-desist notice after becoming aware of the production, he said.

The “Hamilton” team was further troubled by a sermon at the end of the church’s production in which a man said that God could help people with their struggles, listing homosexuality alongside broken marriages, drugs, and alcohol. Brown said that “Hamilton” officials were not aware of the lyric changes or the sermon when they allowed Saturday’s show to go forward.

The staging of the unauthorized performance at the church was reported by OnStage Blog.

After the church responded to the cease-and-desist letter, the “Hamilton” team said it could move forward with another performance on the condition that it not be live-streamed or recorded, that videos and photos of the production would not be posted and that the church would not “mount any further productions,” Brown said. He added that “this limited permission” had been offered “without prejudice”.

The “Hamilton” team would discuss “this unauthorized production” in the coming days with the parties involved after vetting information about it, Brown said.

Clips obtained and published on Twitter by Hemant Mehta, a writer, showed several of the rewritten lyrics, which include religious references. Mehta, who is based near Chicago, said in an interview that he did not attend the play, and that the clips were sent to him by someone who wanted to remain anonymous.

“If a local theater did exactly what they did, without the gospel message at the end and without the Christian conversion parts of the show, there wouldn’t be any conversation about whether this is OK,” Mehta said. “Of course it would not be OK.”

Other lyrics were altered to put the production on a more church-friendly footing, including by removing most profanity and a reference to intercourse.

The church removed clips of the performance from its YouTube channel, which had fewer than 4,000 subscribers and a few hundred views on most of its videos.

US copyright law grants churches an exemption that allows them to perform copyrighted music during religious services. The exemption does not extend to public performances outside of services.

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