A school district in Ohio has canceled a school’s planned musicals after officials deemed the production – which features several gay characters and a cameo of Jesus Christ – “not suitable for families”.
Cardinal Local Schools District officials released the decision in a letter to parents Monday, slamming Cardinal High School’s spring production, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.
As well as taking issue with the Jesus scene and the presence of two gay men as characters – described by the district as “vulgar” – the council also expressed concerns about a song called “My Unfortunate Erection”.
Organizers, meanwhile, claim the production used a school-friendly version of the Tony Award-winning song, titled “My Unfortunate Distraction.”
Already months – and hundreds of dollars – into the production, students and parents are venting their frustrations. The district, meanwhile, backed his decision, saying anyone alleging discrimination is “mistaking”.
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The Cardinal High School production was canceled after officials deemed it “not suitable for families”, due to the presence of gay characters, problematic lyrics and a Jesus cameo.
Already months into production, students such as Riley Matchinga, a senior who starred in the Tony Award-winning musical, are venting their frustrations
“When we found out it was cancelled, everyone was heartbroken,” Riley Matchinga, a senior who starred in the musical, told local Fox 8 affiliate the decision to school.
“Honestly, it was awful. Everyone was crying,” the teenager said, appearing alongside her mother Mandi, the musical’s assistant manager.
Mandi Matchinga added that she was stunned on Monday when she learned production was to be halted, with the mother saying the school – one of five in the district’s jurisdiction – had already given the play the green light months ago .
The district, however, argues that the musical was never approved by the school board, revealing its statement that it had “received a complaint from a resident on January 11”.
The statement, written by Superintendent Jack Cunningham, added that other families had expressed production concerns over some of the songs and themes featured in the musical, which is based on a play written by Rachel Sheinkin.
Cardinal Local Schools District officials released the decision in a letter to parents on Monday, criticizing Cardinal High School’s spring production,
The statement, written by Superintendent Jack Cunningham, added that other families have expressed concerns about the production, over some of its songs and themes.
Winner of a Tony in 2005, the play centers on a fictional spelling bee set in a geographically ambiguous middle school, with two of the students’ parents being gay men.
According to Matchinga, the district held a meeting earlier this month to voice their disapproval of the two characters as well as concerns about the aforementioned Jesus scene and toned down song.
“There were concerns about the language in one of the songs,” Matchinga said. “There was concern about Jesus appearing on the show, and there was a complaint about two of the parents being gay.”
Matchinga reiterated how changes were made to the dialogue and songs to make them more family-friendly months ago, and that clearance slips had to be signed for a planned airing of the play to be viewed by a local college.
These concerns, she said, were raised by the superintendent who drafted Monday’s statement, which argues that the piece contains content “not suitable for our preteen and teenage students.”
Winner of a Tony in 2005, the play centers on a fictional spelling bee set in a geographically ambiguous middle school, with two of the students’ parents being gay men. Pictured is one of the school rehearsals for the play, which had been planned for months
Riley’s mother, Mandi Matchinga, said she was stunned on Monday when she learned production was to be halted, saying the school gave the go-ahead months ago.
“The district believes that consideration of controversial issues has a rightful place in the curriculum of our schools,” the statement said.
“However, the district wants its student productions to be something that community members of all ages can enjoy without adult supervision.
In all aspects of its operations, the District vigorously enforces its prohibition against discriminatory harassment based on race, color, national origin, sex (including sexual orientation and gender identity), disability , age, religion, ancestry or genetic information.
He added that the district wants “student productions to be something that community members of all ages can enjoy without adult supervision.”
As well as taking issue with the Jesus scene and the presence of two gay men as characters – described by the district as “vulgar” – the council also expressed concerns about a song called “My Unfortunate Erection”. Pictured is a promo for the since-cancelled game
Matchinga, meanwhile, said $1,700 had already been spent on production and it was too late in the school year to get the necessary licenses to put on another show, as it would take 10 to 17 weeks to complete. repetitions.
“Theatre is about making you think about things and making you question things and think critically,” she added, saying theater is not just for entertainment, but also social commentary.
She said she plans to raise the issue at the next school board meeting.
“Now they use the word vulgar instead of family,” Matchinga said. “What is the vulgar? What exactly are the issues you’re having with this show, and can we sit down and come to some sort of compromise and agreement?