Two Top Ten Lists Tell Tales Of Theatre Today

October 14th, 2014 § 5 comments § permalink

Aside from being the month of copious pumpkin flavored foodstuffs, October also brings two perennial theatrical top ten lists that are worthy of note: American Theatre magazine’s list of the most produced plays in Theatre Communications Group theatres for the coming season and Dramatics magazine’s lists of the most produced plays, musicals and one-acts in high school theatre for the prior year. They both say a great deal about the state of theatre in their respective spheres of production, both Continue reading...

Quiet Kryptonite Fells California High School Theatre Superheroines

October 8th, 2014 § 2 comments § permalink

A couple of weeks ago, yet another high school play was canceled over its content, this time at Santiago High School in Corona, California. Unlike the cases we often hear about, there was no press about the decision, no student protest, no faculty outcry. By the time I learned of it and communicated briefly on social media with a couple of students involved in the show, they were ready to just move on. The play was to have been performed in the latter part of this month. The play, Hearts Like Continue reading...

Disability And The Return Of “Freak”

September 26th, 2014 § 1 comment § permalink

I anticipate that this October will be the month of “freak,” and not because of Halloween. Though that won’t help. Because the media can’t resist trend stories, and any three or more items with a common link can constitute a trend, the confluence of the AMC series Freakshow; the new season of American Horror Story, entitled “Freak Show”; and the Broadway musical Side Show, with its opening number inviting audiences to “Come Look at the Freaks,” will prove irresistible. However, Continue reading...

In Pennsylvania, Director Is Fired Over School “Spamalot”

September 19th, 2014 § 146 comments § permalink

I am angry and I am sad. But I am not entirely surprised. Earlier this morning, Dawn Burch, drama director at South Williamsport Area Junior/Senior High School in Pennsylvania, was fired from her position. By e-mail. The reason given? “Job performance.” It doesn’t take a detective to figure out what’s really going on. At the beginning of July, Burch asserted that her musical choice for this school year, Spamalot, had been nixed by the school due to its gay content. School officials Continue reading...

Questions On School Theatre Censorship, For South Williamsport & Beyond

September 18th, 2014 § 1 comment § permalink

Even if I were to attend the Board of Education meeting of the South Williamsport Area School District in Pennsylvania this coming Monday, September 22, I couldn’t speak. That’s because the district only allows comment from residents and taxpayers, and I am neither. Even if I were permitted to speak, I very likely would only be permitted to make a statement, since many school boards allow public comments at meetings, but don’t necessarily engage in dialogue. I have no idea what the practice Continue reading...

Guest Post: A Welcoming School “Spamalot” in Pennsylvania Coal Country

August 28th, 2014 § 15 comments § permalink

Among the many responses I’ve received to my accounts of the censorship of the musical Spamalot at South Williamsport Junior/Senior High in Pennsylvania was a tweet from Dane Rooney, an English teacher and drama director in Shenandoah PA, who spoke of his own school’s Spamalot. I invited him to e-mail me with more information, but instead of a handful of bullet points, I got an essay. I asked if I could share his communication and, with a few adjustments by Dane for wider readership, this is Continue reading...

Facts Emerge About School “Spamalot” Struck Out Over Gay Content

August 21st, 2014 § 10 comments § permalink

Once each year, the world turns its eyes to Williamsport and South Williamsport PA, as young athletes from around the globe compete in the Little League World Series. This year has garnered particular attention for the wunderkind pitcher Mo'ne Davis, whose story has united people across any manner of gender or racial lines, through the talent and grace of a single young woman. Less publicly and widely known, however, was that over this summer, the administration of the South Williamsport Area School Continue reading...

Why Are There So Few Long Running Plays On Broadway?

August 18th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

There was a time, children, not so very long ago, when hit plays ran much longer than than 131 performances. Why 131? Because in the last ten complete Broadway seasons, that’s the average of how long a play – new or revival – ran. Yet, out of 313 plays in that decade, only 21 plays ran for 200 performances or more, and only seven ran for 300 performances or more. No play in the past decade topped 800 performances, as The 39 Steps stopped climbing at 794 performances and War Horse headed for Continue reading...

Why I Saw A Musical I Knew Virtually Nothing About

August 11th, 2014 § 3 comments § permalink

10 days ago, I was completely unaware that an Icelandic musical had established a beachhead in one of Off-Broadway’s larger theatres. To be honest, I’d never given much thought to Icelandic theatre, let alone their musicals. So when I spotted an online Village Voice story about the show’s musical score and gave it a skim, that alone was enough to make me want to see this rara avis. So I spent Saturday afternoon, a beautiful August afternoon, in the dark at the Minetta Lane. But there’s actually Continue reading...

High School Theatre Wickedness In The Eye Of The Beholder

August 5th, 2014 § 6 comments § permalink

Years from now, when the musical Wicked is eventually made available for school and amateur productions, will some high school administrator declare it inappropriate? After all, among its many plot strands is the story of (spoiler alert) the manipulative Madame Morrible, a school headmistress who schemes against those in Oz who don’t conform precisely to her standards, be they green girl or anthropomorphic animal. It’s a terrible portrait of pedagogy gone wrong and surely doesn’t foster the Continue reading...