The school play at North Farmington (Mich.) High School will go on, despite objections from parents in the community.
Over the past few weeks, local parents have taken issue with the Detroit-area school’s planned spring production of “Carrie: The Musical,” saying that the show is vulgar and offensive. School administrators maintain that the play is perfectly appropriate.
The work is based on Steven King’s novel Carrie, which has spawned several movies including Brian De Palma's acclaimed 1976 film of the same name. It follows a teenage girl who has telekinetic powers and is often bullied by peers and her religiously fanatic mother. The story ends with mass murder in a school gym.
Some parents have called the play insensitive because of the violence it portrays. Others have taken issue with the way it depicts Carrie’s religious mother, saying it perpetuates negative stereotypes about fundamentalist Christians, according to Detroit outlet The Oakland Press.
“You are welcome to think of our high school students as worldly and complex, but you are not allowed to think of them as adults. They are still children, even at that age,” local parent Tom Adams said at a recent school board meeting, according to The Oakland Press. “I am convinced that this material was not chosen on its merits, but rather by its inherent divisiveness, and on that measure alone should be disqualified for presentation.”
Administrators at the school have countered that the show will force students to think about the harms of bullying.
“It pushes the notion of anti-bullying through a fantastical lens,” Principal Joe Greene told the Detroit Free Press. “It’s a look at difficult topics and engages people into thinking about it."
District Superintendent Susan H. Zurvalec also defended the production, per a statement printed by Detroit outlet WXYZ:
The directors of the play, Dean and Sue Cobb, have been producing plays and musicals at North Farmington High School for more than 30 years and more than 80 shows. While this musical is not for everyone and is rated PG-13, the Cobb’s longtime record and respect for students and families allows for the school district to place our trust in them. We know that they will present the production in a sensible and appropriate fashion.
High school senior, Katherine Violet Harvath, who is in the show, told The Oakland Press that she agrees with the school's decision to perform Carrie.
“The cast and crew have had our eyes opened to try and make a change in the world to stop the idea of bullying,” she said. “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and none of them can be considered wrong. It is unfortunate that people cannot look past the violence and religious aspect of the show."
The school's production will take place in early May.