Questions linger over school play adjustments

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While copyright owners indicated Tuesday they have yet to see a request to change the content of "Les Misbles," the director preparing Moffat County High School's version of the classic said the show is going on.

This, one day after a group of parents gave the Moffat County School District Board of Education an earful on the administrators' decision to not stop the show, which is cited by some as offensive toward women and laced with foul language and sexual innuendo.

"It's bothersome," Amy Coleman, a Moffat County High School teacher working with some 40 students on the play, said of the controversy.

"Les Misbles" opens Nov. 21 through Nov. 23 at Moffat County High School.

"It's a lot of pressure, but it's understandable and it happens," she said.

Still, work on the play's set is nearly done, and after-school practice continues through a dress rehearsal one week from opening night, Coleman said.

Coleman said she mailed a request Oct. 21 to change the play's content exchanging certain vulgarities, phrases and lines for softer alternatives after a meeting with parents in late September.

Some parents Monday, critical of "Les Misbles," claimed that Coleman did not pursue permission to change the play.

John Prignano, senior vice president of Music Theatre International, which handles the copyright to the high school version of "Les Misbles," said Tuesday he hadn't received a request from Craig.

"It could be in our mailroom to be distributed, but I don't know," said Prignano, adding that he personally approves changes to licensed scripts.

"As long as it's not changing the intent or meaning of the songs, generally it's allowed," he said.

When in doubt, Prignano said, authors of the respective works are contacted for permission, a process that varies as far as time.

Authors' known opinions on commonly requested changes mean that MTI rarely needs to ask, he said.

With MTI having launched the high school version of "Les Misbles" in June, Prignano said the creators' stance on content changes isn't known.

MTI issues some 8,000 performance licenses each year for high school theater productions, which produces about 50 to 100 requests to change scripts, he said, estimating 1,000 licenses have been issued since June to high schools nationwide performing "Les Misbles."

MTI steers clear of local content disputes, he added.

"It's up to the directors to know their community and what is acceptable to the community,"

Prignano said.

Something Coleman said she feels the play has lived up to.

"We were willing to compromise and picked out the points that people had complaints about," she said.

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

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