School Officials Cancel Production of SWEENEY TODD, Citing Issues with Subject Matter
Officials at Timberlane Regional High School have cancelled a scheduled production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, saying the script and content matter are too controversial.
"I want an all-inclusive performance that the community can enjoy," Superintendent Earl Metzler told The Eagle Tribune. "We were uncomfortable with the script and agreed that this was not the right time or place for the performance."
Sweeney Todd tells the story of a barber who, haunted by his past, murders his clients and gives them to his landlady to be baked into meat pies.
The high school had been planning on producing the school edition of the musical, adapted by composer Stephen Sondheim himself to make the subject matter more appropriate for school productions.
Still, officials took offense to the musical. Despite protests, they're maintaining their position.
"This isn't censorship," Metzler said. "We're just trying to do the greatest amount of good for the greatest amount of people."
According to The Eagle Tribune, Metzler has told the school community there will be a public forum to discuss the issue. Students and some parents have taken the matter into their own hands.
A Facebook group has been circling among the group in protest of the school's decision, which officials advised be taken down to protect students from suspension, expulsion, or legal action. Metzler said students are free to discuss the issue but that officials will not tolerate disrespectful language.
"There were things that were written which were beyond disrespectful and rude, as well as illegal," he told The Eagle Tribune. "It's not about free speech. Those students are free to let us know what they feel about things. But it does not give them the right to be rude and disrespectful."
A verbose editorial published by The Eagle Tribune suggested that Metzler "do a word search on the First Amendment to see if it turns up 'rude' or 'disrespectful'" and stated that "being polite is not a condition of free speech."