Lin-Manuel Miranda Responds After Church's Unauthorized Hamilton Performance: 'Lawyers Do Their Work'

·4 min read
Lin-Manuel Miranda
Lin-Manuel Miranda

Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Lin-Manuel Miranda

Lin-Manuel Miranda is speaking out.

After an unauthorized performance of Hamilton took place at The Door Christian Fellowship Ministries in McAllen, Texas, on Aug. 5 and 6, the creator of the Broadway hit condemned the production on social media.

"Grateful to all of you who reached out about this illegal, unauthorized production," Miranda, 42, wrote in a tweet on Wednesday. "Now lawyers do their work."

The Oscar-nominated actor and composer also thanked the Dramatists Guild, an association of theater writers that condemned the church. "Always grateful to the @dramatistsguild, who have the backs of writers everywhere, be it your first play or your fiftieth," he wrote.

Miranda also retweeted a statement from the guild that read, "The Dramatists Guild condemns the Door McAllen Church for its unauthorized production of Lin-Manuel Miranda's groundbreaking musical Hamilton, performed on August 5 and August 6, 2022, in McAllen, Texas."

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"In addition to performing the show without a license, the Door McAllen Church changed lyrics and added text without permission," the statement continued. "We hold up the Door McAllen Church's brazen infringement to shine a light on the problematic pattern of some theatrical organizations performing authors' work without a license and rewriting the text without authorial consent. No organization, professional, amateur, or religious, is exempt from these laws."

The guild also stated that "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," it went on, concluding, "And it is never okay to change the words, lyrics, or notes, without their express consent."

The Door McAllen Church declined PEOPLE's request for comment on Thursday.

Shane Marshall Brown, a spokesperson for Hamilton, said in a statement to PEOPLE Tuesday they do not grant amateur or professional licenses, and they did not grant one to The Door Church.

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Brown said that on Saturday they "were made aware of the unauthorized staging of Hamilton" that happened Friday. At that point, "We issued a cease-and-desist letter for the unauthorized use of Hamilton's intellectual property, demanding the immediate removal of all videos and images from previous productions from the internet, including YouTube, TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, their own website and elsewhere."

Once they got a response from the church, the Hamilton team told The Door they could "proceed" with the already-scheduled Saturday show "on the conditions that it was not live-streamed or recorded; no photos or videos of the performance be posted; they not mount any further productions; this limited permission was without prejudice, and we reserved all rights and remedies; and we would be discussing this matter with the parties behind this unauthorized production within the coming days once all facts are properly vetted."

Clips from the church's Hamilton interpretation then went viral on social media, shared by writers like Hemant Mehta. Dialogue appeared to be added to insert religious threads in the story, and a sermon at the end told the audience that "God can help you" through "broken marriages" or those who "struggle with alcohol, with drugs, homosexuality."

On its Facebook page, The Door describes itself as a "Bible-based, Spirit-filled, nondenominational family of believers."

Marquee for the musical Hamilton at the Richard Rodgers theatre, New York City, New York, July 7, 2016.
Marquee for the musical Hamilton at the Richard Rodgers theatre, New York City, New York, July 7, 2016.

Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Hamilton on Broadway

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According to Brown, "The Hamilton family stands for tolerance, compassion, inclusivity and certainly LGBTQ+ rights. We are in the process of reviewing the unauthorized changes made to the script to determine further action. We would like to thank our devoted fans for bringing this to our attention."

Pastor Roman Gutierrez told The Dallas Morning News in a statement that The Door is not anti-LGBTQ and "everyone is always welcome."

Per video from a service shared by Mehta on Sunday, a pastor claimed to the congregation that the Hamilton team had granted them "license to perform our version" of the show. He added that they immediately removed the footage from social media when lawyers contacted them, apologizing for the inconvenience. "Hopefully we can do it again in the future," he added.

The New York Times noted that U.S. copyright laws allow for churches to use copyrighted music during its religious services, but not necessarily to republish it online or hold performances.