A school district in Ohio has canceled a high school musical after complaints from local residents about the content of the play, which featured two gay characters, a cameo from Jesus, and a song titled “My Unfortunate Erection.”
Cardinal Local Schools District officials announced the decision Monday, calling the production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee “vulgar,” and not “family-friendly,” reports the Daily Mail.
However, the show’s assistant director, Mandi Matchinga, argues that the controversial song, “My Unfortunate Erection” had already been changed to a more school-friendly “My Unfortunate Distraction,” and says she is “stunned” by the decision.
While Matchinga claims that the school district approved the production months ago, officials assert that it was never approved by the board.
“There were concerns about the language in one of the songs,” Matchinga told Fox News 8. “There was a concern about Jesus appearing in the show, and there was a complaint about the fact that two of the parents were gay.”
But despite the changes to the script, as well as making the song more family-friendly, the district decided that the content was “not suitable for our pre-teen and teenage students.”
In a statement by superintendent Jack Cunningham released on Jan 30, the district said it wants its “student productions to be something that community members of all ages may enjoy without adult supervision.”
Cunningham explained that several families had raised concerns about some of the musical’s themes and songs, and said any suggestions of discrimination are “mistaken.”
“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,” reads the statement.
The musical, written by Rachel Sheinkin, was awarded a Tony in 2005. It centers on the story of a fictional spelling bee set in a fictional middle school. Two of the students' parents are gay men, and in its original form is deemed suitable for adult and teenage audiences.
“When we found out that it was canceled, everybody was just heartbroken,” said Riley Matchinga, Mandi’s daughter, in an interview with Fox News 8.
“Honestly, it was just terrible. Everyone was just crying,” said the teen who was to play the lead role.
Mandi Matchinga said $1,700 had already been spent on the production and that it is too late to change to a different play now. Instead, she is hoping a compromise can be reached that will save her show.
“Now they’re using the word vulgar instead of family-friendly,” she said. “What is vulgar? What exactly are the issues you have with this show, and can we sit and come to some sort of compromise and agreement.”
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