ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: A Prom Story Worthy of the Stage, Plus Patti LuPone, Caroline Rhea, Lilla Crawford

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14 Jan 2013

Aaron Fricke and boyfriend Paul Guilbert go to the prom
Aaron Fricke and boyfriend Paul Guilbert go to the prom

A week in the life of actor, radio and TV host, music director and writer Seth Rudetsky.


Hello from Boston! I'm here because the Boston Children's Theater is holding auditions for Reflections of a Rock Lobster, and they asked me to do a master class with the kids who are trying out and then help run the auditions. I read the play (by Burgess Clark) on the way up and it's so good. It's the story of Aaron Fricke. I remember this story from high school. Aaron was a senior at a Rhode Island high school and he wanted to take his boyfriend to the prom. Naturally, the school said yes right away. End of story. No, actually, what happened was the principal forbade it. He claimed it was a "safety issue," that the other students wouldn't accept it and the result would be violence. Well, instead of fading out, Aaron (who was only 18!) sued his school! The play has the judge's verbatim decision and I'm obsessed with it!

First, he totally busts the principal's prejudice by writing: "I've discovered that just last year two boys attended a prom together at a high school in New Jersey. There were no incidents to speak of. I believe that it is the attitude of fear and intolerance fostered by this school administration that is cultivating any unrest or anxiety that may exist within the community." Then he busts the claim that the student body won't accept it by saying that not allowing Aaron and his boyfriend to attend would be letting students have a "'heckler's veto," allowing them to decide through illegal and violent methods what speech will be tolerated. The First Amendment of the United States Constitution does not tolerate mob rule by unruly schoolchildren." Brava!

Aaron took his boyfriend to the prom (under police escort) and the play has such happy ending. The real Aaron himself Facebook'd me (!) and we were writing each other about how the play also has the potential for a great musical. I love how he described it: part coming-of-age story, part underdog story, part love story, part courtroom drama and it's all true! Come see the show in Boston or get the book that Aaron wrote


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