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Is 'Rent' still too wild for high school?

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Rentonbroadway_l

Rentonbroadway_lThe NY Times has a great piece up today about high schools attempting to mount productions of the musical Rent. This is the first school year that a modified edition of the play — which skips bad language and the sexually explicit song “Contact”– has been available, but that hasn’t been enough for some school districts. The problem? Apparently the show features a few gay people. (Lest you think this is just a problem in the red states, the piece focuses first on a California high school whose theater teacher says he had to drop a planned production.)

I had two reactions reading the piece: First, anger that the simple fact of gayness can still be so objectionable. On second thought, though, I was kind of envious. When I was in high school in the early ’90s, a show like Rent wouldn’t have been discussed at all. The theater department at my school did a stage version of the movie Fame in which one of the characters was thoroughly de-gayed. (In our version, the aspiring actor was just really, really sensitive.) And I won’t even get into a neighboring high school’s version of Hair. (No, “Sodomy” didn’t make the cut.)

What do you think PopWatchers? Is the battle over Rent a sign of progress? Or of how far we still have to go?

More Stage:
EW’s stage channel
Stage review: ‘The Story of My Life’
Stage review: Will Ferrell in ‘You’re Welcome America. A Final Night With George W. Bush’

addCredit(“Joan Marcus”)