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Texas church to pay damages for unauthorized 'Hamilton' production

WFAA-TV Dallas-Ft. Worth 8/23/2022 Ryan Wood
© Provided by WFAA-TV Dallas-Ft. Worth

The McAllen church that went viral for its unauthorized production of "Hamilton" will pay damages for staging the musical.

In a statement posted to Instagram, the church's pastor apologized for the production "that infringed on the rights and copyrights of many."

"We will pay damages for our actions," the statement said.

The Door McAllen posted a full-length YouTube video of its Aug. 5 production of the show, which featured staging and costuming similar to the Broadway production.

The show also featured several script changes to include references to Christianity and Jesus.

After the video began to get attention online, outraged theatre fans tagged the show's creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and the show on social media alerting them to the unauthorized production.

Lawyers for "Hamilton" contacted the church and allowed them to continue with the second performance, but prohibited photos and videos from being posted online.

The following morning, during his sermon, Pastor Roman Gutierrez thanked "Hamilton" for giving the church permission to produce the show, but that license was not given.

In its statement Tuesday, The Door McAllen admitted it "did not ask for, or receive, a license from the producers or creators of Hamilton to produce, stage, replicate or alter any part of Hamilton; nor did we seek prior permission to alter Lin-Manuel Miranda's work by changing the music, the lyrics, deleting songs, and adding dialogue."

Shane Marshall Brown, a spokesperson for "Hamilton," did not comment on how much The Door will pay in damages.

In a statement to WFAA on Tuesday, Brown said "'Hamilton' will be donating all damages paid by The Door Christian Fellowship McAllen Church to the South Texas Equality Project."

"The South Texas Equality Project is a coalition of organizations that work to advocate for, celebrate, uplift, educate, and provide support to the LGBTQIA+ community of the Rio Grande Valley," Brown said.

Full statement from The Door McAllen:

"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 Door Christian Fellowship McAllen Church did not ask for, or receive, a license from the producers or creators of Hamilton to produce, stage, replicate or alter any part of Hamilton; nor did we seek prior permission to alter Lin-Manuel Miranda's work by changing the music, the lyrics, deleting songs, and adding dialogue.

We respect the copyrights of Hamilton"s author and contributors.

These copyrights are protected by federal law. We acknowledge there are lawful avenues to obtain a license to stage properties which we did not pursue. And it is never permissible to alter an artistic work such as Hamilton without legal permission. I recognize as the Pastor of the church that I have an obligation and responsibility to follow the law and educate our community about these protocols. Our ministry will use this moment as a learning opportunity about protected artistic works and intellectual property.

On behalf of The Door Christian Fellowship McAllen Church, we agree we will never stage the performance again and will destroy any and all video or sound recordings and images of the unauthorized performances or rehearsals, and request that all our members do the same. Lastly, we will pay damages for our actions."

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