Friday, February 20, 2009

Why you won't be seeing some high school productions of "Rent"

As the Times reports today:

Theater directors and students at more than 40 high schools across the country have selected a new show for their big springtime musical this year: “Rent: School Edition,” a modified version of the hit Broadway musical that, while toned down a bit, remains provocative by traditional drama club standards.

Too provocative, in the view of some high school officials and parents. At least three of the planned high school productions, in California, Texas and West Virginia, have been canceled after administrators or parents raised objections about the show’s morality, its portrayals of homosexuality and theft, and its frank discussions of drug use and H.I.V., according to administrators, teachers and parents involved in those cases.

The article focuses on Ron Martin, the theater director at Corona del Mar High School in Newport Beach, Calif. "Rent," which depicts struggling artists living in the East Village, was cancelled there.

He said his principal, Fal Asrani, had objected to the show because of its treatment of “prostitution and homosexuality.” “When I heard that, I stopped her and looked her in the eye and said, ‘First, there is no prostitution in ‘Rent,’ and second, homosexuality is not wrong,’ ” Mr. Martin said. “She made no comment. It was the most demoralizing, disappointing moment in my career as a teacher.”

The principal denies this. In any event, what will Martin show instead?

He also said he was leaning toward directing “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” as the spring musical “because I don’t think there’s anything she can object to in that.”

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