Dec 4, 2013
11:19 AM
Connecticut Today

Trumbull Students Lose Fight to Stage 'Rent', Musical With HIV/AIDS Theme

Trumbull Students Lose Fight to Stage 'Rent', Musical With HIV/AIDS Theme

The show will not go on in Trumbull. Although students drew significant support in protesting a decision to cancel the planned spring production of the musical Rent by Jonathan Larson, the Board of Education on Tuesday night came down on the side of school administrators and decided the show would not be staged.

FOX CT News quoted school board chairman Deborah Herbst saying, "Without proper planning, Rent the school edition has the potential to become a speech rather than a meaningful dialogue."

The board's decision was addressed in a post today on the Facebook page Trumbull for RENT:

Our story on the issue when the news broke last week follows:

The students of Trumbull High School are staging a peaceful "Rent-bellion" over the abrupt cancellation of a planned spring school production of the musical Rent by Jonathan Larson.

According to a Trumbull Patch story and other sources, members of the school's drama club, the THS Thespian Society, were informed on Monday of this week during a two-hour meeting that the school would not be going forward with its planned production of the Tony Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway play.

Reasons cited for canceling the production included concerns reportedly voiced by Trumbull High School principal Marc Guarino that the play covers "sensitive" and "controversial" subjects—despite the fact that the planned Trumbull production was to be the "School Edition," a version of Rent specially adapted for schools

During a subsequent meeting with other Trumbull education officials, the same concerns were expressed to students.

Connecticut Magazine reached out to Guarino by phone Wednesday for comment on the decision, but has not received a response from Guarino or the school.

Rent, which premiered on Broadway in 1996, has recently been staged by high school students in nearby towns such as Fairfield (this past July) and Greenwich (April) without incident.

Trumbull High School students, including members of the THS Thespian Society, are unhappy with the decision, and are trying to get the administration to reconsider. THS Thespian Society president Larissa Mark is leading the effort, collecting signatures for petitions in the hopes of reinstating the production. She has called on her fellow classmates to "respectfully show that we are upset and do believe that Rent could be a very successful show for Trumbull High School." She requests that no one should "threaten the administration for making a very hard decision."

A Facebook page, Trumbull for RENT, has been started in an effort to try and sway the school. In only a few days, it has already received over 2,100 "likes." The students are said to have received support from the family of Rent's Larson.

On the Trumbull High School website in the THS Musicals section, Rent has already been listed as the 2014 spring musical, including audition and performance dates. Sets had also already been designed for the production, so the decision to cancel seems somewhat abrupt.

From the THS Musicals page:

THS Musicals is excited to announce the 2014 Spring Musical:

RENT (School Edition) by Jonathan Larson

Set in the East Village of New York City, RENT (SCHOOL EDITION) is about falling in love, finding your voice and living for today. Winner of the Tony Award for Best Musical and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, it has become a pop cultural phenomenon with songs that rock and a story that resonates with audiences of all ages.

Based loosely on Puccini's La Boheme, RENT (SCHOOL EDITION) follows a year in the life of a group of impoverished young artists and musicians struggling to survive and create in New York's Lower East Side, under the shadow of HIV/AIDS in the late 1980’s. (Music Theatre International)

Performances: March 27 – 30, 2014
Auditions: week of Dec. 9 – 13, 2013


As noted by THS Musicals, this production had planned to be an edition of the play especially adapted for schools. According to Music Theatre International,  "Rent: School Edition is exuberant, passionate, and joyous. Schools will love the freedom and flexibility that this show offers; minimal costuming and sets are required. This adaptation has been carefully done, working with the Larson estate to retain the dramatic intent of the groundbreaking rock musical, and consists of minimal changes to language and the removal of one song ("Contact") to make it possible for many schools to perform this piece."


 

 

Trumbull Students Lose Fight to Stage 'Rent', Musical With HIV/AIDS Theme

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