What Is Being Taught About The Director-Playwright Relationship?

December 2nd, 2015 § 8 comments § permalink

I assume most people, either as a child heard, or as a parent deployed, the timeworn phrase, “If someone told you to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge, would you do it?” My parents had a variant along the same lines: “Just because other people do it doesn’t make it right.” I am reminded of this phrase as it seems every week lately I hear about another instance of a theatre director altering a script or overriding an author’s clear intent; the recent run of examples has been with college-affiliated Continue reading...

Preparing For Anti-“Rent” Messages From Tennessee Pulpits

July 3rd, 2015 § 18 comments § permalink

If you are a musical theatre fan in general, and a Rent fan in particular, and you’re going to church in or around Tullahoma, Tennessee this Sunday, there’s a chance you may not like a bit of what you hear said from the pulpit. That’s because there’s an e-mail circulating among the area’s religious leaders alerting them about Jonathan Larson’s Rent, the Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical about young lives in the East Village of New York City a few decades ago. Some of the Continue reading...

Has There Been A Stage Outrage Overreaction at Arizona State?

April 24th, 2014 § 5 comments § permalink

[This post has been updated twice since it was originally published. I urge you to read it fully before drawing any conclusions.] Rent is at the center of an academic controversy again, with a few twists. This time, it’s not the whole show, it’s just one song, “La Vie Boheme.” It involves multiple high schools and a college simultaneously. The performance is over and done. But the song echoes. Here’s the gist, summarized from video and written reports from AZcentral.com: earlier Continue reading...

Season After Season After Seasons of Love

April 17th, 2014 § Comments Off on Season After Season After Seasons of Love § permalink

As I prepared to go to Trumbull CT last month to see the high school’s production of Rent, many people asked, or wrote me to ask, if I would be writing about it. My consistent reply, “I doubt it,” was met with surprise by one and all, who asked, ‘Why not?’ I had been very vocal in my support for the show when it was canceled back in the fall, and I know that I played some role in helping to turn the tide back in favor of the production, though it was the students and adults in the community Continue reading...

Obscuring The Better Angel of High School Theatre

March 11th, 2014 § 3 comments § permalink

Last year, the actor Taylor Mac played the title role in the Foundry Theatre’s acclaimed production of Brecht’s The Good Person of Szechwan. This tale of a downtrodden woman who secures power in ancient China by cross-dressing as a man gained in depth and complexity from having the male Mac portray the female character Shen Te, only to transform into the male Shui Ta. Gender identity layered upon a story of gender discrimination enhanced the play, which managed to deliver numerous messages Continue reading...

How Not To Cancel Your High School Musical

December 4th, 2013 § 43 comments § permalink

In the immediate wake of announcing to the Trumbull High School Thespian Society that he was canceling the planned spring production of Rent, Principal Marc Guarino spent almost an hour talking to the students about his decision, speaking of “challenging issues” with the play and saying it wasn’t “the right time.”  These nebulous explanations didn’t seem to satisfy the students or many of their parents.  Two days later, the principal let it be known that he was going to have further Continue reading...