Published March 09, 2014
A high school musical featuring supernatural powers, bullying and lots of blood has angry parents pushing to cancel the production.
“Carrie: the Musical,” the spring theatrical production at a high school in suburban Detroit, is prompting outrage from some parents who say the show based on a 1970's horror film must not go on.
But school administrators and others defend the production, scheduled for May, as topical, saying the story portrays the tragedies of bullying and nonacceptance — and invites thought on how to better deal with their consequences, the Detroit Free Press reported.
Carrie is based on the hair-raising tale of a shy girl who uses her telekinetic powers to exact a bloody revenge on schoolmates who bully her. The 1976 film starred Sissy Spacek and was based on a Stephen King novel.
The controversy is roiling Farmington North High School in Farmington Hills and was a topic of discussion at a recent meeting of the district's board of education.
“When I heard [the upcoming production] was a musical version of ‘Carrie,’ I was dumbstruck,” parent Julie Devine told the board, the Free Press reported. “I thought, ‘How arrogant, how insensitive and how reckless to put on a show that ends with a mass murder in a high school gym.’ ”
The newspaper said Devine was also “disturbed by the portrayal of Carrie’s mom as a Christian nut job bent on destruction,” which conflicts with the schools’ support of diversity.
Another parent, Karie Acker, said: “The play is so wrong on so many levels, in my opinion.” Acker added that it is exposing young people to more “garbage.” She said if the production is allowed to continue it should be staged some place other than on the high school stage.
But school principal Joe Greene said he hopes the play will prompt the audience to reflect on events of the story "in light of how we treat others."
“The musical ‘Carrie’ provides us a fantastical lens through which to examine and spur thought about the origin and impact of bullying, the impact of mental illness, and the choices we make about how we treat each other,” he said in a statement.
At the school board meeting musical director Dean Cobb also defended the production.
“We promise you that we wouldn’t and have never in the 80-plus shows we have done put any child in mental, emotional or physical harm’s way,” he said, according to WXYZ TV.