Connecticut High School Production of Sweeney Todd Under Fire
It’s becoming all too often we are finding high school theatre productions in the headlines for something someone finds offensive. From the word “whore” in Legally Blonde the Musical the hip shaking music of All Shook Up, high school theatre productions are becoming an easy target for parents offended or displeased with a particular show choice. However, this time things have been taken a step too far. Today, Luner on Theatre brings you the story of Amity Regional High School in Connecticut who is set to perform Sweeney Todd beginning April 5th, 2013. However, the production has come under fire from several protestors who have connected the violence in the production to the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre that took place in the state less then 3 months ago.
The issue regarding the school production of Sweeney Todd has only appeared in the media right before this weekend first appearing on Laura Carroll’s blog Friday morning. Her and a few other parents are currently planning to attend a school board meeting set for this past Monday Night. The musical is not on the agenda for the meeting and no vote will take place on it. Sweeney Todd is the musical about a barber in London who kills his customers and turns their bodies into pies which are sold in the bakery below his store.
Where Ms. Carroll stepped over the line was when she decided to connect the killer barber, turning his victims into pies, to the horrible Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting which took place in December in Conneticut. The shooting killed 27 people, 20 of which was a group of 1st grade students. On her blog, Carroll said;
“Amity High School students are assigned and taught to perform the horrific acts of gruesome murder, cannibalism, rape, suicide, etc. Our children and communities are still going through the effects of the Sandy Hook massacre. What is Amity’s message to these children? Amity High School is supporting violence in our community.”
There always comes a time and place where people can cross the line in making their point about something and this is it. Laura Carroll has absolutely no right to connect a musical about a barber who kills people to a school shooting that took place less then 3 months ago in the same state. If you don’t support the production, don’t attend it. There is no reason to injure wounds still healing from a tragedy that affected not only that community, not only Conneticut but the entire nation. Will Carroll protest all productions of Sweeney Todd nationwide next? Not to mention there is more productions in theatre that involve violence in them then just Sweeney Todd. Assassins, Les Miserables and Miss Saigon just to mention a few. How can you say one production is inappropriate without saying all of them are? You can’t.
This production is being backed by not only the high school producing it but the school district it is in. If they believed it was inappropriate for a show involving violence in their community during the time period after Sandy Hook, they would not have let the show go on. Superintendent John Brady stated that himself and the principal of Amity Regional were standing behind the production. He went on to say;
“As far as I know this protest is about three or four individuals, who made their feelings known on the blog Monday morning, and unfortunately made the decision to link our production to Newtown. We are doing the high school edition of Sweeney Todd, which is one of the most produced shows at high schools in the country, and which has some of the lyrics and scenes toned down from the Broadway version. This is a suitable show for Amity High School.”
When contacted by the New York Times regarding her planned protest on Monday night, Carroll did not respond. Howard Sherman, who is the former executive director of the nonprofit American Theater Wing, is also an alumni of Amity Regional and planned to attend the school board meeting on Monday night to speak.
Luner on Theatre will continue to bring you updates as we find out regarding the planned protest of Sweeney Todd at Amity Regional High School in Connecticut. We sincerely hope that the parents planning to protest this show will see much larger picture of all this which has nothing to do with the education or arts factor of it at all. This is a group of parents upset with a choice of a show within their community. Let us not return to the wounds of Sandy Hook and continue to harm them more but let them heal. The community, Connecticut and the United States has all had to grip with this horrible tragedy and returning to it over and over again because of a show is not only worth it but not needed at all. Be sure to check Luner on Theatre on Facebook and Follow Us on Twitter as well! We are constantly updating these pages with information! And of course, check out the rest of Luner on Theatre for all your theatre news you don’t only need but want to know and so much more!