This morning it was reported that a high school in PA has decided to cancel their upcoming production of Avenue Q, despite rehearsals already underway. The reasoning behind the decision is because the principal felt it contained too much mature content.
However the drama club at Danville Area High School was set to perform the "School Edition" of the show. It's an adaptation that "maintains the dramatic intention and integrity of the piece, while editing it to make it more appropriate for high school audiences and performers", according to Music Theatre International's(MTI) website.
MTI provided a list of the changes made to the musical for the School Edition; those changes are:
- The language (both dialogue and lyrics) has been cleaned-up throughout. Think of the show being rated PG-13 now rather than rated R.
- The song "Internet is For Porn" has been replaced with "Social Life is Online".
- The songs "My Girl Friend Who Lives In Canada" and "Loud As The Hell You Want" are cut from this version The videos throughout the show are all now done live using actors.
- The scenes with the Bad Idea Bears have been trimmed and amended to now focus less on drinking.
- A few character names have been changed - Lucy T. Slut is now just Lucy, and Mrs. T. is now Mrs. Butz.
Despite the changes in the material, Principal Chris Johns still decided to the cancel the production.
"I just didn't feel that the show was appropriate at this time for students of all ages, and audiences of all ages," said Johns.
If you're wondering why the production is being cancelled, administrators are admitting it's due to fear of potential backlash from the community and money.
Danville Area High School is in the midst of funding a $14 Million project which includes a new auditorium. Johns fears that producing a "rsique" show like this could drive away potential revenue and hurt the development of the project.
The decision to cancel the production has resulted in the resignation of the drama club adviser.
However to add insult to injury, Johns stated that they would be open to do the show in the future, just not right now.
"Everything in the show is what happens in the world outside of a public school. It's a production we would consider in the future..." said Johns.
Usually cowardly decisions like these are made after the complaints of parents, but Johns is acting out of fear before any controversy even arises. It's also a slap in the face to the current student body by telling them you're open to the show but not right now because the school needs money and you're afraid.
This is yet another example of high school administrators sanitizing the arts. It is absolutely the wrong time to do this. We need artistic expression and bravery more than ever and by shutting these opportunities down at younger levels, it creates a negative ripple effect.
I'll be interested to see what the administrators decide what it a suitable musical for their drama students to perform because it seems people can find controversy in every musical nowadays.
Photo: Staples High School production of Avenue Q