Saturday, September 01, 2007

Bishop nixes Trinity Prep play [Updated]

Update: Check out here and here on Stand Firm for more on this production and the Trinity board of trustees.

From the Orlando Sentinel:

Trinity Preparatory School canceled its opening-night performance of La Cage aux Folles on Friday at the request of Bishop John Howe, head of the Diocese of Central Florida.

"His request was not to stage the production, and we decided to honor his request," said Headmaster Craig Maughan, who called off Friday's and tonight's planned performances. "I met with the cast and all the people involved in the production and announced the decision and explained it to them."

"There was disappointment among students, but I would say they understood."

The award-winning musical comedy, which opened on Broadway in 1983, features a middle-aged gay couple and actors dressed in drag. . .

. . . The bishop was surprised "that any high school would sponsor this particular production," he wrote. "Having to put a 'PG-13' warning label on a dramatic production certainly seems an unusual decision for a Christian preparatory school.". . .

. . . "I'm very sad," said Janine Papin, chairwoman of Trinity Prep's fine-arts program and director of the show.

But she also hoped for "a happy outcome" -- perhaps off-campus performances -- and had "faith in some very strong leaders" at the school where she has worked for eight years.

Mostly, she said she was sorry misconceptions about the musical had brought problems to Trinity.

"La Cage really isn't about a gay couple. It's about family," Papin said. "It's funny and endearing, and there's a wonderful message about being comfortable with who we are. And it really doesn't have to deal with sexuality."

In the show, one partner runs a French nightclub and the other performs there as a drag queen. Their life is upended when one man's son brings home his fiancee and her ultraconservative parents. The musical, which won several Tony Awards, was also made into an American movie, The Birdcage, staring Robin Williams and Nathan Lane.

Last week, Papin told the Sentinel she picked the show because she wants "to push the limits so that there are very few shows that are off-limits for the kids because of sexual orientation or because of religious differences or whatever it is.". . .

. . . One mother said her child was "absolutely furious" about the cancellation.

The mother asked not to be identified after the headmaster asked parents and students not to comment to the press.

"I would like the show to go on. It has absolutely nothing to do with the bishop," the mother said. "I don't think it has anything to do with the church."

The mother noted the musical ran on Broadway for many years and preaches a message of tolerance, a message that many students take to heart.

The cast was mostly students from the prep school, though it included a few from public high schools and 20-year-old Benjamin Rush. He stepped in to play one of the leading men when the student actor was injured.

"I understand this is a private school, a religious school," Rush said, but that didn't make the decision easier for the cast. "I'm upset because of the censorship of the arts.". . .

H/t to Oak Leaves.

Read it all. I think there are so many misconceptions and PC inspired cultural statements in this story, it's hard to know where to start.

I respect Bishop Howe for dealing with this in a forthright manner, and I dont' see how the director can say, on the one hand, "La Cage really isn't about a gay couple. It's about family," and on the other, state that she picked the show because she wants "to push the limits so that there are very few shows that are off-limits for the kids because of sexual orientation or because of religious differences or whatever it is." Obviously, the play's emphasis on sexual orientation is one reason why she picked this - to push the limits.

And I'm sorry - but censorship? Where do people pick this stuff up? This play has been made in to a Broadway show and a movie - and I don't see the government shutting it down.

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