'Deeply homophobic': NJ school reverses decision to cancel LGBTQ musical 'The Prom' amid massive backlash
ESSEX COUNTY, NEW JERSEY: New Jersey's Cedar Grove High School reportedly planned to cancel the LGBT musical ‘The Prom’ due to “inappropriate” content. 'The Prom' follows a lesbian student banned from bringing her girlfriend as her date to a prom. The Essex County school district faced huge backlash from students, parents, alumni and the LGBTQ community after it was said on social media that officials tentatively canceled the production this week. However, they reversed their decision to cancel the production after facing huge social media backlash.
Recent Cedar Grove High School graduate Rebecca Altschul posted the news in a public statement shared widely, saying, Cedar Grove administration has said the show must be discontinued due to "community concern" over the themes. "After seeing (’The Prom’) a few years ago and learning that it was now available for schools to produce, the students themselves chose this musical,” Altschul, who participated in the music and theatre program during her time at the school, said in her statement.
“The students, who feel this show is a representation of themselves and were so excited to have a chance to work on it, are now obviously a mix of devastated and angry at the news,” Altschul said.
Actor Josh Lamon, who starred in 'The Prom' when it ran on Broadway, shared the post on Facebook, writing, "This is infuriating and deeply homophobic. There is nothing inappropriate in or about the show. You can attend the BOE meeting Tuesday to let your voice be heard. You can amplify and spread the word. These kids deserve to do this show that they have worked hard for. These kids deserve to know that they are seen and that this kind of hatred is wrong."
However, the district’s superintendent has now said that the school will stage a “High School Edition” of the play, which was modified by its creators for family audiences. “After further inquiry with the licensing organization, we were informed that a High School Edition of ‘The Prom’ just became available. Therefore, Cedar Grove Public Schools fully supports producing the High School Edition of the musical ‘The Prom,’ which was not previously available at the time of licensing,” said Cedar Grove Superintendent Anthony Grosso, according to NJ.com.
"When a production is in the process of being produced at the high school level, shows that were meant for Broadway may have language in the script of songs that could be inappropriate to our younger audience or other members of the community,” Grosso wrote in an email sent to a community member, obtained by NJ Advance Media.
“Therefore, a Jr. version of a play would need to be produced to accommodate our potential audience,” Grosso said. “Cedar Grove Public Schools fully supports producing the Jr. version of the musical, allowing our students to continue to produce the show at a level that allows our students to express their creativity through the art of performance.”
Altschul said that the social media backlash around the controversy helped the cause and “within 12 hours of hearing, the [administration] has backed down and the show will go on," according to BroadwayWorld.