A New Jersey high school tried to cancel an adaptation of the LGBTQ+ musical The Prom due to “community concern” over its themes.
Officials at Cedar Grove High School in Essex County, New Jersey planned to cancel a student production of The Prom – which sees a lesbian student try to bring her same-sex date to a school prom – but were forced to backtrack after opposition from the community.
The district’s superintendent Anthony Grosso told those concerned in a Friday (14 October) statement that the play would not be cancelled, but that students would perform a “High School Edition” of the play.
“After further inquiry with the licensing organisation, we were informed that a High School Edition of The Prom just became available,” he said in a statement. “Therefore, Cedar Grove Public Schools fully supports producing the High School Edition.
Cedar Grove’s music department issued a statement on Instagram after administrative officials initially told them that the play would not be going forward due to vaguely described “community concerns.”
The department called on members of the community to voice their concerns in a future meeting with the district’s Board of Education on 18 October.
“For a program that has run for over 20 years under the same director and never had a question of content for any show in the past, this is a first,” the statement read.
“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 as our next production. We would actually be the New Jersey high school premiere!
“We secured the rights, paid for the materials, and announced the show to students but have now hit a bump in our normal road.”
Supporters of the post included The Prom actor Josh Lamon, who replied to the statement saying: “Whatever we can do, I’m here for it.”
He shared the statement on social media, adding that the cancellation was “infuriating and deeply homophobic,” and that there is “nothing inappropriate in or about the show.”
Several users, including fellow Broadway stars, agreed with Lamon that this was “literally the reason they need to be doing this show!!” while others asked if they should “tell Stephen Colbert” since the talk show host is close by.
After the superintendent announced the change, department member Rebecca Altschul posted on Instagram thanking those who spoke out in support of the play.
“See you all in March to build a prom!” she said.