Scheduling, not concerns over content, keeping middle school students from attending, 8:30 a.m., Wed.
By Mike McGann, Editor, UnionvilleTimes.com
EAST MARLBOROUGH — The emails were flying fast and furious when word got out that Patton Middle School students would not be able to attend a dress rehearsal Wednesday for Urinetown: The Musical, this year’s Unionville High School musical. Now, the big worry is finding an audience to help the students get prepared for their three-night run this week.
That dress rehearsal is free and open to the public, starting at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday morning. Parking is available near the cafeteria — and drop offs will be permitted closer to the front of the auditorium, with a school administrator on hand to guide people, allowing a much shorter walk.
Aside from the concerns that the students would literally be playing Wednesday to an empty house — word began filtering around the community that the move was made because of concerns that the show’s content was inappropriate for middle school audiences. The problem, school administrators say, turned out to be much more mundane: scheduling.
Superintendent of Schools Sharon Parker said the problem wasn’t with the show, but timing. Typically, the high school’s musical is done in the spring, but this year’s show was moved to the fall because of the ongoing construction project in the high school — the current auditorium is scheduled to be converted into a technical education classroom space, with construction starting there this spring, as construction of the new auditorium finishes. That move conflicted with a very busy pre-Thanksgiving week at Patton. Parker noted a similar issue happened last year with performances of A Christmas Carol — which has no concerns about content.
Aside from clearing up the confusion, the big concern now, Parker said, is working to find an audience for the Wednesday morning dress rehearsal — a dress rehearsal is typically a final last practice performance with all music, costumes, lighting and so on to work out any last-minute issues with the show, which is scheduled for performances Thursday, Friday and Saturday night.
Members of the board of education as well as Parker were bombarded with emails and calls about the situation — and then the issue took center stage during Monday night’s Board of Education meeting at Patton.
Sheila Romaine, President of the Unionville Music Parents Association, expressed concerns about the process and asked for more transparency from the board and administration — and expressed concerns that the students were being kept from seeing the show because it was deemed “inappropriate.”
Parker said that scheduling was the primary issue and that middle school students are encouraged to attend any of the three performances of the show this weekend.
Advanced tickets for reserved seats for the Thursday, Friday and Saturday shows may be ordered at the UHS office, Tickets purchased at the door will be $12 each. The dress rehearsal Wednesday morning is free.