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Musicals that are or aren't appropriate for high schools 
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Young Hoofer
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Adie wrote:
Going by what Maggie said, Would Sweet Charity be appropriate for HS?
IT has it's pluses, lots of roles for girls, the ensemble has quite a bit of involvement and can be in more numbers if necessary, cheap to produce and a range of featured roles.
BUT Charity's a whore.


It does have all that, especially the tons of girls, which is the exact reason my cousin's director picked it her senior year. He had a girl he wanted to feature as Charity, a TON of girls that could dance (he recreated most of the original choreography), and kids that would do anything he wanted them to. That show was over ten years ago and I remember it vividly. I also remember the outcry from the school, parents and community after opening night. He almost lost the director's position because he had the guys in one of the dances smoking. They had real cigarettes onstage and were really smoking them onstage and everyone lost their minds. Most of them didn't even notice that Charity was a whore :roll: . But he was kept on a pretty tight leash after that.

I don't think Sweet Charity is approprate for high schools. Out of an academic setting (community theater, camps, etc.), I don't think its such an issue. There's the whole "This is representitive of our school and city" mentality that schools get, especially when it is something very visible to the community (musicals, plays, marching/concert bands).

As for the list. I added ** where I think there are special cases:
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee * (I think someone mentioned a clean version...that would be okay, I think for most high schools)
Aida
All Shook Up
Cabaret*
Camelot
Chicago*
A Chorus Line** (You need to have dancers. I don't care. The show is about dancers in a Broadway audition. If you don't have the people, don't do it.)
Company*
Damn Yankees
Evita
Footloose
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
Gypsy** (The same high school I mentioned before did this a couple of years ago and there was even more outrage. Go by the community before you jump into a show. Especially one that features strippers)
Hair*
Hairspray** (See my comments about Ragtime)
How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
Into the Woods
Jekyll and Hyde
Jesus Christ Superstar
Kiss Me Kate
Les Miserables
Little Shop of Horrors
My Fair Lady
Oklahoma!
Oliver!
Once Upon a Mattress
The Producers
Ragtime** (If you don't have the people, don't do it. A local high school learned this the hard way. They got some...makeup to help them along in some areas, and outraged a community in the process)
Rent* (I don't think it belongs in schools. There. I said it.)
South Pacific
Sweeney Todd
Urinetown
West Side Story


Tue Jun 22, 2010 9:52 pm
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Tony Winner
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High-baritonne wrote:
A teenager portraying a believable Tony, no problem! A teenager portraying a believable Professor Higgins, no way!

Too me it just seems pointless doing any other shows than those containing teenagers or young adults, like for example Rent.


Actually, I saw a brilliant Professor Higgins in a high school production of My Fair Lady. I bet he did a better job than some adults could.

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Tue Jun 22, 2010 10:28 pm
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Chorus Member
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about 55% of the shows above have been at my school, and all have done well and haven't caused any problems. Though, shows like Rent shouldn't be shown in schools, but lots of the shows above aren't a problem.


Tue Jun 22, 2010 10:36 pm
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My old high school freaking loves to do potentially controversial shows. Cabaret, Jesus Christ Superstar and Sweet Charity have all been done in recent years. As well as plays like Wolf Lullaby, Inheritance and Metamorphoses, which contain things like children committing brutal murders, suicide, incest, etc, etc, etc. It's also an all-girls school, and nine times out of ten, they cross-gender cast rather than bringing in male actors.

They're usually pretty good. The casts always spend time analysing the themes and issues presented in each show, do extensive character development, work with movement and dialect experts for authenticity, and so on. However. I most recently saw their production of Cabaret, and while I'm sure it was a fantastic learning experience for the cast, as an audience member, I felt that that theoretical understanding did not translate into performance. It lacked grit.

Oh, and I never want to see Herr Schulz played by a sixteen-year-old girl again.

There are always going to be high school prodigies who can blow everyone away, but I disagree with a high school using a show with overly difficult material as a vehicle for their star. I also think it's silly to shy away from giving high school students challenging content in shows -- in my experience, most are really keen to work with meaty scripts. I think it depends very much on the students, their skill and their maturity level.

Don't do a show that's going to upset the parents and get the drama department in trouble just for the sake of it. Don't do a show you can't cast without having weak links. Do a show that the students can learn something from -- but that doesn't mean you should do the show with the most shocking content. You can learn how to work as a company, how to conduct yourself backstage, how to act in ensemble scenes, how to interact with scene partners, how to create developed characters, if you do Oliver just as well as if you do Sweeney Todd. Do a show the students can be proud of.

I hate it when people say, "It was a great show, for a high school," or "She did a great job, for a teenager." When I was sixteen, I played King Midas in Metamorphoses at school. I have a recording of my performance. I did the best I could. I did learn a lot as an actor. And I was "great, for a sixteen-year-old girl playing a middle-aged king." Even then, I knew that I could have done better, but I didn't know how to improve. I would have much rather been given a role I could have worked hard at and ultimately excelled in, rather than one I could work my guts out in, but never be able to do justice.


Wed Jun 23, 2010 12:10 am
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Brackynn wrote:
There are always going to be high school prodigies who can blow everyone away, but I disagree with a high school using a show with overly difficult material as a vehicle for their star. I also think it's silly to shy away from giving high school students challenging content in shows -- in my experience, most are really keen to work with meaty scripts. I think it depends very much on the students, their skill and their maturity level.


I agree very much with this. Directors need to keep the talents and abilities of their students in mind while choosing a show, not just pick shows that are only benefiting one student or are personal favorites that are so out of the abilities of their students at the time. I've seen many high school and youth productions crash and burn, not because the kids are untalented, but because the show is just a poor fit for the school.


Wed Jun 23, 2010 7:07 am
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Good students is all very well, but we also have the teachers who are supposed to direct, choreograph and design costumes, sets and props. Some musicals, e.g. Fame, can be done very well on a barren stage, while others demand more scenography. Also some musicals have so much that depend on direction, because we all know that the successes and the failings lie on the director.


Wed Jun 23, 2010 7:16 am
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Teazer_9009 wrote:
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee * (I think someone mentioned a clean version...that would be okay, I think for most high schools)


I don't think the "clean version" is an actual version, I think it's directors or whoever changing the script/lyrics/etc. to make it "clean". I saw a high school put on a "clean" version, and it worked well (although I still can't figure out why they cut "Why We Like Spelling"), but I'm still not convinced that it's legal...

Teazer_9009 wrote:
Hairspray** (See my comments about Ragtime)
Ragtime** (If you don't have the people, don't do it. A local high school learned this the hard way. They got some...makeup to help them along in some areas, and outraged a community in the process)

In Illinois it's illegal to use makeup to make a white person play a black person or vice versa. That's why the CT that's doing Hairspray at the moment is in so much trouble: no black people auditioned and they still don't have a full cast because of it. #-o


Wed Jun 23, 2010 9:47 am
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I do agree that the show picked should be appropriate for the talent, but I don't think it's fair to look at a school and say "they don't have the talent" just because they don't have the budget for a fancy set or a huge theater program. I'm also not saying to neglect other factors of a show just because the talent is there- as an audience member, I want to see a good set as well as good talent. And of course I agree that the resulting show should be good! I'd be nuts if I didn't. But what drives me crazy is when a school is looked at and is told "you're not good enough to do THIS musical, or THIS play so therefore, your program is horrible." I think that a musial shouldn't have to be large scale/grandiose to prove that a theater program is good.

"putting on a good production is important, and so is the valuable learning experience-not just with the theatre."

"I think it depends very much on the students, their skill and their maturity level."

^I agree with both of these. In my senior year, we did Cabaret. We had the leads and supporting roles with Juniors and Seniors, and smaller parts like chorus and dancers with a mix of freshman, sophmores, juniors and seniors. The leads were all experienced, we all understood the material, and we all took it seriously. A number of students were new to theater, and gained valuable life lessons... such as appreciating the chorus people. (LOL!) The head of the theater department had picked this show knowing her student's maturity level, talent, and checking it with the school board. A few parts (like the kiss) were cut out, but overall, it turned out really well.

Now for my thoughts on the list..... with what shows I actually know. lol
But as a general rule, there are a lot of factors to be considered, as said before: talent, maturity level, believabilty, how the community and school board will react...if other factors can be pulled off....(set, lighting, costume design....)

Some thoughts based on this list: (listing specific trouble factors for each one if I think there are any or any other thoughts crossing my mind, in no particular order) Talent is a thing to consider in all of them and what the school's talent pool is for all of them though.

Aida- If Aida and Ramades aren't of different ethnicities, (Don't hurt me!! 8O ) I want to see some distinct costuming.

Cabaret- dance talent, maturity level, community reaction

Chicago- same as Cabaret

A Chorus Line: Dance talent.

Company- Community reaction, talent level. It's more difficult Sondheim. 'nuff said.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum- I don't see any trouble factors here. Someone tell me if I'm off.

Gypsy- Community reaction to s.

Hair- I've never seen the show but from what I've heard, community reaction

Hairspray- Keep ethnicity in mind.

Into the Woods- Again, no huge trouble factors that I can see here except maybe someone's reaction if they're super uptight and that it's Sondheim.

Jekyll and Hyde- Nothing major.

Jesus Christ Superstar- Community reaction

Les Miserables - I disagree with a watered down version, but if that's what you want to work with...(ew ew ew ew ew.)

Little Shop of Horrors- No big trouble factors from what I know, except maybe trying to build the plant? I

My Fair Lady- talent. I don't want to have an Eliza who can't do an accent, or have it so over the top that it's bad. And don't forget Higgins!

Oklahoma! - Check that you have dancers. Or is the dream ballet all cut/drastically changed in choreography?

Oliver! - No trouble.
The Producers - No trouble except maybe a reaction to some of the swearing.
Ragtime- Ethnicity. Again. I don't want to see a production of Ragtime with blackface.
Rent- Again. Watered down. NO. And for the love of theater, have the talent to do this show, or DON'T DO IT. I've seen too many Mimi's/Maureens/Roger's on youtube from high school productions that can't act or sing these parts to save their lives.

Sweeney Todd- nothing big here, but I wanna see the set. And again, Sondheim.
West Side Story- No biggies here, except maybe if people get picky about ethnicity. I probably would be. -_-"

Don't hurt me!! :lol: :oops:

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Wed Jun 23, 2010 1:37 pm
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Gwen wrote:
West Side Story- No biggies here, except maybe if people get picky about ethnicity. I probably would be. -_-"


Our school did a stylized version of West Side Story, seeing we only have Norwegians. They let the Sharks wear black and the Jets white to represent that they are two different races. It worked very well.


Wed Jun 23, 2010 1:50 pm
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This is a really good topic for me right now, because the schoolboards in my district are having a highly publicized choosing process for the productions next year. So far one of the schools in my district has nixed a potential production of Shakespeare's As You Like It because of sexual content. Sure... the back-up plan, 12 Angry Men, has also been nixed. Crazy? Totally.

I've omitted the shows I know nothing about.

Aida- I would theoretically have no problem with this, even at an all-white school (don't shoot me!). The opera on which it's based still periodically has a white singer singing Aida in varied productions, for instance. However, a black actress is much more effective considering some of the themes dominant in the musical, and in the end I would probably say that if a school doesn't have the human resources, they probably shouldn't do it.

Cabaret*- Maybe it's just that my school is overpopulated with idiots, but I do not see the average highschool student having the maturity to contend with many of the themes. Also, children playing Nazis tend to anger parents, in any context. See The Producers.

Camelot- Fluffiest show known to man. I don't see how this could possibly be inappropriate.

Chicago*- The sex and the violence would probably turn most highschools off to doing it in the first place. One of the colleges in my immediate area did it, and Mary Sunshine was played by a girl, highlighting the other difficulty of finding a man who won't ruin his voice in order to fit the bill.

A Chorus Line*- Dancing in highschool shows is usually so dismal anyhow, why subject the poor parents to a whole two hours of it? Unless it was an arts school with a plenitude of talented dancers of both sexes, this would be a pretty bad choice. Plus, there would be little things for students working on sets to do, because the entirety of the set is a mirror and a line drawn on the stage.

Company*- I don't think students would grasp most of the themes in this very mature musical. Also, it is Sondheim.

Damn Yankees- I have no problem with this, so long as they have the amount of boys needed for the show.

Evita*- I have to say that there is little room for other people apart from the four principles to shine in this show, and were I selecting a highschool musical, I would want a wider amount of good characters in the show.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum- No trouble with this show, apart from the Sondheim factor. And I suppose some of the burlesque would probably be watered down.

Gypsy*- It's a classic, yes. A classic with strippers and a lead female role that most highschool students probably aren't ready for. Don't.

Hair*- Oh God.

Hairspray- If one has the human resources, there would be no trouble with this being put on in a highschool. Weinstein himself said that he wanted it put on in highschools so that the fat girl and the drag queen would finally get the starring roles. But blackface would ruin the show, and the school's reputation. And I have to say I'm ambiguous about Mrs. Turnblad being played by a girl, which would probably happen now and again. But otherwise, I don't have an issue.

Into the Woods*- I'm split on this one. Depending on how far the director went with some of the subtext, this show could be really inappropriate for highschools.

Jekyll and Hyde- No real problem, apart from 'Bring On The Men' (is that still in the show?)

Jesus Christ Superstar*- The fact that most of the disciples and Pharisees would end up being played by girls while the only two talented boys in the school did Jesus and Judas depresses me terribly.

Kiss Me Kate- Nope, no problem. Deal with the lyrics that were steamy about fifty years ago!

Les Miserables- I think that there's no use disputing that this is already part of the highschool repertoire, but I still am pissed that they would cut Confrontation.

Little Shop of Horrors- Part of the highschool repertoire. Too late to dispute its appropriateness.

My Fair Lady*- The chorus is not active enough, and there's only one female role really worth it, which requires a difficult dialect.

Oklahoma!- It's a classic. Hard to dispute.

Oliver!- Once again, a classic. It's less of an issue if a girl plays Oliver or the Artful Dodger than in most other shows.

The Producers*- I have to say I would disagree really strongly with The Producers being put on at a highschool. I realize the 'Springtime for Hitler' number is all pure satire and not serious at all, but I think any show that necessitates goosestepping and armbands might not be the best choice for a highschool. :?

Ragtime*- Human resources, human resources. There are no schools in my district that could potentially do this show without offending everyone in a ten-mile radius.

Rent*- Does not belong in any highschool. This is a college show if there ever was one.

South Pacific*- Good Lord, there's a school in my area doing this one. I wonder what they're going to do with their all-white cast. Hopefully they won't go the Miss Saigon route...

Sweeney Todd*- I draw from my own experience here... This is just a bad choice for schools, especially if you don't have any blood, any pies, or any guys.

Urinetown- My school did this, there was no problem, apart from the perpetual small cast issue.

West Side Story- My school also did this. I think the justification went that not all Puerto Ricans are Hispanic. Most of our Sharks ended up wearing bronzer anyhow, though -flinch-.


Wed Jun 23, 2010 3:30 pm
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SmallTownIngenue wrote:
Brackynn wrote:
There are always going to be high school prodigies who can blow everyone away, but I disagree with a high school using a show with overly difficult material as a vehicle for their star. I also think it's silly to shy away from giving high school students challenging content in shows -- in my experience, most are really keen to work with meaty scripts. I think it depends very much on the students, their skill and their maturity level.


I agree very much with this. Directors need to keep the talents and abilities of their students in mind while choosing a show, not just pick shows that are only benefiting one student or are personal favorites that are so out of the abilities of their students at the time. I've seen many high school and youth productions crash and burn, not because the kids are untalented, but because the show is just a poor fit for the school.


I once saw a primary school do The Mikado.

Seriously.

8O


Wed Jun 23, 2010 7:50 pm
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I just have to ask.

Why is Rent inappropriate for High Schools? What is wrong with sixteen year olds hearing about sex, drugs, gays, AIDS, and death? I don't see how a show about acceptance, fighting a disease and coping with life is High School inappropriate. If it had not been for the difficulty of the music I would urge High Schools to do this show.

So please explain to me why it is inappropriate for High Schools?


Thu Jun 24, 2010 3:02 am
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