Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Hill: Killing RENT - Behind the Times and Beyond the Pale

Fal Asrani, the principal of Corona del Mar High School in Newport Beach, Calif., either doesn't like gay people or is an extremely slow reader.

The school was scheduled to perform “Rent,” a Pulitzer- and Tony Award-winning rock musical (and, arguably, the only culturally relevant musical produced on Broadway in the ’90s), as its spring show. Asrani, apparently a huge fan of censorship, wanted approval over the script — already gutted for the high school edition — but needed more than a month to review.

Even so, she had already made her decision on the show, according to drama instructor Ron Martin — "she had already told me that she would not let it proceed because of the homosexuality in it."

Asrani has begun backpedaling, claiming that Martin canceled the show himself and that gay people deserve the same respect as straight people. But her actions clearly reflect her bigotry and ignorance. “Rent” is an important show, and the students should be exposed to its universal themes of love, friendship and tolerance. Asrani, for her part, needs to see this show more than anyone in California.

“Rent” was a huge part of my high school experience; I went to see a national tour in Washington with a local public high school in Maryland in 1998. That was 11 years ago. Just how behind the times in Asrani? A pretty pathetic story — and one you'd expect out of Alabama, not California.

Originally posted on The Hill.

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