Connecticut High School Production of Pulitzer-Winning Rent Canceled by Principal Due to "Controversial" Themes

By Michael Gioia
04 Dec 2013

Jonathan Larson
Jonathan Larson

Trumbull High School, located in Trumbull, CT — approximately 66 miles from where the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning musical Rent premiered on Broadway — has put a stop to mounting the Jonathan Larson musical because of its "sensitive" and "controversial" themes, according to a Facebook page created for the show.

Shortly before the school's Thanksgiving break, the Trumbull High administration, under principal Marc Guarino, informed the school's Thespian Society that they would not be able to produce Rent: School Edition — a musical that covers topics such as homosexuality, drug use and the AIDS epidemic — which was planned for a March 25-27, 2014, run at Trumbull.

According to Musical Theatre International, which licenses the property, "This [school] 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."

A Facebook page, Trumbull For Rent — spearheaded by the theatre group's president, Larissa Mark — was created Nov. 26 for the students at Trumbull to "make a statement" and attempt to reinstate Rent back into the high school calendar.



To date, the page has nearly 6,000 "likes," and various theatregoers, organizations and schools have responded to the students in support. A petition, signed by over 1,000 high school students, was also created.

A Board of Education meeting between the Thespian Society students and the school's principal and superintendent was held Dec. 3.

Student Mark posted a statement to the Trumbull for Rent Facebook page when the administration reached a decision regarding Rent. That statement follows:

I would like to start this post by first thanking each and every one of you who has liked this page, written to the administration and voiced their opinion on the cancelation of RENT: School Edition at Trumbull High School.

Unfortunately, last night at a Board of Education meeting in Trumbull, a letter was read from Mr. Guarino stating that RENT: School Edition will not be performed this year at Trumbull High School. I along with two other students met with Mr. Guarino today where he confirmed this is his final decision on the matter.

While Many students and members in our community are disappointed in this decision, I did state that we would follow the administration's decision on the matter.

While this story develops I will try to keep this page updated with the most recent information.

I thank you all for your support, and hope that a production of RENT: School Edition will happen at Trumbull High School, if not this year, soon.

Larissa Mark
President
THS Thespian Society

The Trumbull for Rent group has not responded to Playbill.com's request for comment.