Drama teacher cancels ‘Rent’

Posted on 11 Dec 2008 at 8:14pm
By From Staff Reports

Tijerina says he wants to protect his students from the controversy over  Rowlett High School’s planned production of award-winning musical

Brandon Tijerina, theater director at Rowlett High School, announced this week that he has canceled the school’s planned production of the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical "Rent: School Edition" in the wake of ongoing controversy over the show and some community members’ opposition to it.

Tijerina did not return a call Thursday, Dec. 11 from Dallas Voice. But he told The Dallas Morning News he had cancelled the show out of concern for his students.

"In light of everything that has happened, I need to think of my students first and foremost," he told the Morning News. "They are dealing with pressures that they don’t need at their age. The best thing for  my students is for me to cancel the show, not because of all of the controversy, but because I honestly, truly care for my students."

The musical, a hit on Broadway, follows a group of young Bohemians through a year in New York, dealing along the way with issues including AIDS, homosexuality and drug use. The "School Edition" had been sanitized for a younger cast, with profanity and a graphic song removed from the script.

But some community members considered it to be still too adult for a high school drama department.

Michael Gallop, the father of one boy who had been cast in the show, told Fox 4 News he objected because the show dealt with "homosexuality and transvestites and other issues that are very divisive in our world today."

And Pastor Kaston Huddleston told Fox the show did not "deal with the consequences of a homosexual lifestyle, a lesbian lifestyle, having AIDS or being addicted to heroin."

Other parents, however, including Theater Booster Club member Lani Burger, said people have known about the show for months, at least as far back as August when the planned production was announced to the whole school, and that those who had objections should have spoken up long before now.

Students involved in the production said they were devastated by the news, but that they understood their teacher’s decision.

A school district committee had previously reviewed the play and said that it was appropriate material for the school.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 12, 2008.

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