Letter: Chicago play: I commend the school board and administration
The following is a letter to the editor submitted to the newspaper by a reader. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Echo Press. To submit a letter, send it to email@example.com or Echo Press, P.O. Box 549, Alexandria, MN 56308.
To the editor:
Great education is always enhanced by parental involvement. While I disagreed with the parents who vociferously objected to the teen version of Chicago being performed by AAHS, I appreciate the concern for the school’s children.
While I've spent 40 summers here, I've never had a child in Alexandria schools so I come as a bit of an outsider. However, I've been a theater professional for 46 years and offer some perspective.
In my career, I produced 14 shows that had 10,000 performances in K-12 schools in 82 Minnesota counties. To do that, we needed to have our finger on the pulse of the adults around the kids — teachers, parents, guardians, staff. We asked, listened and acted accordingly.
As well as directing 25 shows at Theatre L’Homme Dieu, in 2008 I took a leadership role for 10 years. Over and over we surveyed residents of Central Minnesota about their preferences for programming. We heard two things: 1. Broadway musicals that had been made into movies and had name recognition were most preferred, and 2. Family-friendly fare would allow TLHD to be well received.
As I look at Concord, the distribution company that licenses Chicago: Teen Edition, I see 13 productions slated this school year — in the U.S., Canada and UK. They're in public schools, Christian schools, and theaters and arts centers focusing on young audiences.
As a parent, a theater professional, and a person who has adopted Alexandria as home, I look forward to seeing Chicago: Teen Edition in November. It will challenge the students and adults responsible for its quality and will delight the audiences who attend.
What started as admiration for concerned parents has morphed into contempt for adults who were virtue signaling with self-claimed nobility and morality in pursuit of ulterior motives. I commend the school board and administration for their support of theater faculty and its decision-making.
Artistic Director Emeritus, Mixed Blood Theatre
and Alexandria summer resident