Script changes for high school play approved

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A request from Moffat County High School to change potentially offensive content in the high-school version of "Les Miserables" has been received and will be approved, John Prignano, senior vice president of Music Theatre International, said Monday.

Prignano said none of the requested changes would require pre-approval from the play's authors.

"They're not looking to change the intent of the characters or the plot, and I don't think we're going to have to go back for anything, " said Prignano, whose MTI has issued about 1,000 licenses since June to perform the high-school version of the classic set around the French Revolution.

Prignano had said Oct. 29 he wasn't aware of the Craig school's request, yet left open the chance it had arrived but had not found his in-box.

The changes, mailed Oct. 21 by play director Amy Coleman, were received Oct. 24, he said.

"We have about 25,000 schools across the country we deal with," said Prignano, who has said he personally approves requested changes to scripts, or, forwards requests to authors of various works when in doubt.

Prignano said MTI has reviewed five requests from high schools to change "Les Miserables" content since June, when the school version was launched.

He said Moffat County's request is similar to the other requests.

"Mostly certain words or phrases that don't look very questionable, and it looks pretty standard ... 'bitch' to 'witch' for example," Prignano said.

A group of parents objecting to the "Les Miserables" performance citing the play's profanities, sexual innuendo and elements of prostitution raised objections before the Moffat County School District Board of Education last month.

The board took no action at the Oct. 28 meeting regarding the play, which is scheduled to run Nov. 21, 22 and 23.

Some parents held their children out of the production, despite changes to the script, which Coleman, an English and speech teacher at the high school, said she agreed to after a meeting with parents in late September.

Several parents questioned whether Coleman had requested any changes with MTI.

Prignano said the high school isn't in breach of contract with MTI by simply rehearsing a version whose changes weren't approved by copyright owners. Still, directors should get needed approval early in rehearsals to avoid potential last-minute chaos in the event changes aren't accepted, he said.

"You shouldn't perform without getting permission first," he said.

Paula Terry who, along with her husband, Parrish, appealed to the school board Oct. 28 to halt the production of "Les Miserables" said she doesn't approve of the play, even with the changes. She and others will continue to scrutinize what is and isn't performed at the school, earlier in the decision-making process, Terry suggested.

"There's nothing we can do about it now," Terry said. "But the next time, I guarantee you it won't be two months into a play's production" before objections, if necessary, are made.

Paul Shockley can be reached at 824-7031 or at pshockley@craigdailypress.com.

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