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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Texas church criticized for its take on ‘Hamilton’

People wait to attend the Broadway musical “Hamilton” after showing their vaccination cards on September 14, 2021, at the Richard Rodgers Theatre in New York, as the highest grossing Broadway musical of all time returned after being dark for 18 months due the coronavirus pandemic.  (Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images North America/TNS)
By Michael Williams and Maggie Prosser The Dallas Morning News

DALLAS – A McAllen, Texas, church is facing controversy for its rendition of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s popular musical “Hamilton” that had several scenes edited to incorporate biblical themes – and which was followed by a sermon that compared being gay with having an addiction.

Much of the criticism about the show, which is produced by RGV Productions and The Door McAllen church, centers on the idea that the edited performance and sermon are the antithesis of what “Hamilton” and Miranda, who is known for his support of LGBT causes, represent.

The Dallas Morning News obtained video of the performance, which ran for about two hours, and a brief sermon that followed. The show incorporates several biblical messages and references not included in Miranda’s original musical. Theater-centric OnStage Blog first reported on the controversy.

During the 15-minute sermon, one of the church’s pastors talked about redemption: “Maybe you struggle with alcohol, with drugs – with homosexuality – maybe you struggle with other things in life, your finances, whatever, God can help you tonight. He wants to forgive you for your sins.”

Questions were also raised about whether the church had legal permission to adapt the play.

In a statement to the News, pastor Roman Gutierrez said the church is not anti-LGBT and “everyone is always welcome,” adding he acquired legal permission from the team behind “Hamilton” to produce the church’s show. On Monday, a spokesperson for Miranda’s “Hamilton” denied that.

“Hamilton does not grant amateur or professional licenses for any stage productions and did not grant one to the Door Church,” the spokesperson said, adding a cease and desist letter was sent to the church on Saturday after the Friday performance. The church also planned to host a show later Saturday.

After hearing back from the Door, “Hamilton” told the church it could continue with Saturday’s show as long as no pictures or videos were taken, the performance wasn’t posted online and the church stopped hosting productions of the show.

The “Hamilton” spokesperson added they would be “discussing this matter with the parties behind this unauthorized production within the coming days once all facts are properly vetted.”

“We would like to thank our devoted fans for bringing this to our attention,” the “Hamilton” statement said.