Update: Tension Continues Over South Williamsport's Cancelled SPAMALOT
As BroadwayWorld reported earlier this month. South Williamsport, a high school in Lycoming County, PA, had been forced to cancel their spring production of Monty Python's Spamalot due to "controversial content," which includes a homosexual marriage. According to WNEP, the school administrators thought that the musical's subject matter was too inappropriate for students.
After attracting considerable coverage in the media, this issue is still under review by the South Williamsport district and the state of Pennsylvania.
According to Howard Sherman, the state of Pennsylvania has very clear "right to know" laws that give ordinary citizens the freedom to view public documents and communications. Sherman himself filed a request for all records regarding the musical, particularly citing "any communications between drama director Dawn Burch, superintendent Dr. Mark Stamm, principal Jesse Smith and the licensing house Theatrical Rights Worldwide." The Pennsylvania Office of Open Records had 5 days to accept or deny the request once it was recieved.
A few days later, Sherman recieved a letter acknowledging his request and notifying him that the district was given an extended response time. This means that Sherman will have to wait until Monday, August 21st to hear back from the disrict. And even then, the office could decline his request.
The letter listed the following reasons for the extention: "Your request for access may require redaction of public records. A legal review is necessary to determine whether the requested record is a public record subject to access under the law." It was signed by an Open Records Officer, who ironically happens to be superintendent Dr. Mark Stamm.
Meanwhile, Sherman reported that Equality Central PA held a gay rights rally in Williamsport on July 3rd. Not only did superintendent Stamm attend, but principal Smith and drama director Burch did as well. The event was a peaceful show of disapproval for the school's decision to reject Spamalot due to homosexual content.
Sherman also notes that there are claims that South Williamsport was not definitely set on Spamalot for their 2015 musical - that it was one of several options - however, the school had already bought a license for the show from Theatrical Rights Worldwide. This does not definitively mean that South Williamsport was decided on Spamalot, but Sherman said he can't imagine that "any school enters into contracts for multiple shows while they wait to make a final decision."
Read the original article here.