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Detroit City Based Youth Theater Production of RENT Halted

The Detroit News Online  is reporting that city Parks and Recreation officials pulled the plug on the spring-slated show, RENT: School Edition, just weeks after organizers of the city-funded Taylor Teen Youth Theatre bought the rights, held auditions and cast about two dozen teen actors.

The ruling by Parks and Recreation Director Michael O'Malley has stripped the actors of a stage and funding and now leaves the future of the teen group in limbo, but they are vowing the show will go on.

Using her own money reports Detroit News, group director Dione Carrico said the cast has reapplied for the rights as the Downriver Actors Guild. They are rehearsing at various houses and building their own set for the musical.

"I made a commitment to my kids," said Carrico of Grosse Ile to the Times. "We're keeping this together.

This is what is would seem to be the first city-based program in the country to cancel RENT: School Edition over its content, but they're not the first to object as a West Virginia high school scrapped its performance in the past few weeks and Wednesday, after gaining national media attention, Corona Del Mar High School in Newport Beach, Calif., reversed its decision to cancel a spring performance. Another high school, Rowlett High School in Rowlett, Tex., canceled its planned production of RENT this past December after parents and community members objected to the urban and intense content of the show, though that didn't stop cast members from performing a version of the musical at Southern Methodist University which is located close to Rowlett High.

The listing on the Music Theatre International website which holds the production rights for the RENT: School Edition states that; "This adaptation has been carefully done, working with the Larson estate to retain the dramatic intent of the groundbreaking rock musical, and consists of minimal changes to language and the removal of one song (CONTACT) to make it possible for many schools to perform this piece".

Rent, written by Jonathan Larson and directed by Michael Greif, opened at Broadway's Nederlander Theatre, on April 29, 1996 following a history making, sold out, extended limited engagement at off-Broadway's New York Theatre Workshop. The musical went on to win every major best musical award, including the Tony Award, as well as the Pulitzer Prize for drama. Rent played its final performance at the Nederlander Theatre on September 7, 2008 after playing 5,124 performances and 16 previews. Rent is the seventh longest running show in Broadway history and grossed over $280 million during its Broadway run.

Tours of Rent have crisscrossed the country almost continuously since late 1996 and the U.S. national tours have grossed over $330 million. The musical has been translated into every major language and been performed on six continents, including in the following countries: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Finland, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

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