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Connecticut HS principal shelves planned performance of “Rent” over subject matter

A Connecticut high school principal has shelved his school’s planned performance of the Broadway play, “Rent,” saying the subject matter could prove problematic if not properly handled with sufficient thought and planning.

The Connecticut Post reports Trumbull High School Principal Marc Guarino said he wasn't informed by the school’s Thespian Society of their intent to reprise the “school edition” of Jonathan Larson’s famous rock musical.

Guarino said he, instead, learned about the March performance from a “third-party outside the school,” according to The Post.

"Without a thought-out plan, `Rent: The School Edition' will be a missed educational opportunity,” Guarino reportedly wrote in a letter to the local board of education.

"Without proper planning, `Rent: The School Edition' has the potential to become a speech rather than a meaningful dialogue to capitalize on all significant themes it presents. I am committed to developing this plan to best meet the needs of all students."

The musical follows young artists struggling on New York City’s then rough-and-tumble Lower East Side. Among other themes, the Pulitzer Prize and Tony-winning play tackles subjects like HIV, AIDS, and drug use.

Indeed, the Thespian Society was reportedly planning on performing, “Rent: School Edition,” an altered version of the play specifically modified for the consumption of high school students. The society reportedly responded to Guarino’s decision, rendered last week, by orchestrating a national petition drive that gathered some 1,500 signatures.

The Post reports a local official has now injected himself into the debate, opining the Trumbull Youth Association should perform the play for their annual summer musical.

"Many of the Trumbull High School students who participate in our high school theater program are also members of TYA," Herbst reportedly said. "Proceeding with this musical in the summer through TYA offers enough time to address the very valid points offered by Mr. Guarino. It will also allow graduating Trumbull High School seniors the opportunity to perform in this musical before they leave for college."

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