History had its eyes on Alexander Hamilton, which is definitely a lot, but can it compare to the internet having its eyes on you? The pitiless internet! Nothing gets by it. And that goes double if you’ve got a production with as many juicy keywords as “Christian Hamilton.”
Yes, it appears RGV Productions in cooperation with the Door Christian Fellowship Ministries of McAllen performed and livestreamed their own take on Lin-Manuel Miranda’s biography of the American revolutionary, statesmen and first rapper Alexander Hamilton. OnStage Blog reported on the youth performances which took place on August 5 and 6 and took a few, um, liberties with Miranda’s story.
In this version, Hamilton’s wife Eliza says “Jesus gives me the strength to pull through when I needed him most he was right on time.” Howard Sherman also writes that the line, “What is a legacy? It’s knowing you repented and accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ that sets men free. You sent your sinless son of man on Calvary to die for me” made it into the final cut.
And then there is this scene in which our hero prays the sinner’s prayer right after [spoiler for American history] his son takes a bullet in a duel.
More from The Door McAllen church's illegal Christianized "Hamilton."
I don't remember this scene in the original production. pic.twitter.com/k1vA8CClhq
— Hemant Mehta (@hemantmehta) August 7, 2022
Well, it’s probably not fair to get too persnickety about history here, since Miranda’s play already takes its own artistic liberties. In real life, Hamilton was raised as a Presbyterian and then got a little lax in his religious life as a young man, spending much of his life as what we’d probably call a “nominal Christian.” Like many of his fellow Founders, he subscribed to deism — the then-popular belief that God was real but largely uninvolved in human affairs. There is, however, evidence that he became more serious about his faith later in life and even asked for an Episcopalian bishop to give him communion on his deathbed.
So, that’s that on that. Playing a little fast and loose with history is sort of Hamilton‘s whole thing. What is less fast and loose here is copyright law. Hamilton is still performing on Broadway and its license isn’t yet publicly available. Even if it was, making significant script edits is generally forbidden. The church has claimed that they had permission to perform the show, but Broadway’s Hamilton team has issued a statement saying they hit the “unauthorized” production with a cease and desist, though they allowed the church one more performance, as long as there were no recordings or livestreams involved.
Broadway’s statement reads:
Hamilton does not grant amateur or professional licenses for any stage productions and did not grant one to The Door Church.
On Saturday, August 6, we were made aware of the unauthorized staging of HAMILTON by The Door Church in McAllen, TX that took place on Friday, August 5, and their plans for additional performances. 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.
Hamilton informed the Church after receiving a response to the cease and desist letter, that they could proceed with the August 6 performance, on the conditions that (a) it was not live-streamed or recorded; (b) no photos or videos of the performance be posted; (c) they not mount any further productions; (d) this limited permission was without prejudice, and we reserved all rights and remedies; and (e) we 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 church production of Hamilton ended with a sermon from Senior Pastor Ramon Gutierrez, saying “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.” Grouping “homosexuality” in that list of vices has drawn a lot of online criticism.
This probably isn’t over. It’s unfortunate that a group of teenagers who clearly have a lot of love for musical theater and this show in particular had to get caught up in some legal drama and internet dogpiles. It seems like the sort of easily foreseeable situation that others around them could have, and should have, had the sense to see coming and taken appropriate steps to avoid.