SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT — A controversy is brewing in Lycoming County over the decision to cancel a musical that was set for students to perform next spring. In South Williamsport, administrators thought the subject matter of the musical was not appropriate for students.
We had several viewers reach out to us because they are upset South Williamsport’s Junior Senior High School has dropped a performance of Broadway’s Monty Python’s Spamalot over controversial content, which includes a homosexual wedding.
Cast members from “Spamalot” perform the Monty Python musical nightly on Broadway. It was supposed to be performed next spring in South Williamsport, but school officials decided not to run the musical because of what they think is inappropriate content.
“If it’s a controversial issue and there are other choices that would be less controversial, I would support the school,” said Manny Tskitas from South Williamsport.
“It’s doesn’t bother me,” said Jodi Cogley, whose child attends South Williamsport High School.
We reached out to the director of drama department, Dawn Burch, who says school officials are making the drama department choose another show. Burch says school officials dropped the musical because of its homosexual themes, according to an email she says she received.*
“I’d just seen one of my friends walk with her girlfriend the other day. It’s definitely in my school and all around,” said Gianna Goegard, a student from South Williamsport.
The superintendent did speak with us. He says, “We want our performances to be appropriate for the student performers and audiences so that anyone participating or watching can enjoy all aspects of the show.”
“As a parent, it wouldn’t be my top choice of a play,” said Tskitas.
Manny Tskitas’ daughter is headed into 7th grade at South Williamsport. He’s not sure his daughter would understand all the concepts in the show.
“I think in today’s day and age, kids get exposed to things very quickly and a lot sooner than my generation and the generation before. So, for the school to take a stand like that, I’m perfectly okay with that,” said Tskitas.
Newswatch 16 did receive emails from members of the arts community in Williamsport who say the South Williamsport school’s decision is insensitive and harmful to children in the area. Again, the school says the show would have to be heavily edited to fit a wider age group. No decision has been made on what show the school will perform instead.
*7/3/14 – An earlier version of this story mistakenly attributed comments about homosexuality not existing in the community to an email sent by the high school principal. In fact, the email did NOT contain those comments. Newswatch 16 regrets the error and apologizes for any confusion.