CG Theatre Department changes musical


Olivia Oliver, Website Editor

UPDATE: The Theatre Department announced that the new fall musical will be “The Addams Family.” Music workshops will begin Monday, Aug. 26 from 3:15-5:00 p.m. and Tuesday, Aug. 27 from 3:15-4:30 p.m. Physical copies of the audition selections will be available at the workshops.

Auditions for the fall musical were canceled today. The planned show, “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” is being replaced because of concerns about the show’s content.

“There were concerns that ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie’ might be racist,” Director Ashlee Vitz said. “But I want to go on record saying it’s absolutely not. The confusion came from the fact that in the 1960’s, there was a movie called ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie’ which was very racist. But when the musical was redone in the year 2000, they made sure that it wasn’t. The villain was still racist, which is what makes her horrible.”

The racist undertones that can be found in some productions of the play were a concern. Dr. Jeffry Henderson, principal, said he heard concerns from parents. Once he researched the play, he was also concerned about subplots that hinted at human trafficking. In other communities nationwide, these issues have sparked protests against schools who have produced “Thoroughly Modern Millie.”

Henderson met with Vitz and assistant director Catie Zenor last week to share the concerns as well as news articles about protests in other communities. He said he told the directors, “I’m not telling you that you can’t do it, but we need to take a look at it and be aware of what these complaints are,” Henderson said. “My intent was to make them aware and think about ways to mitigate these concerns.”

Over the weekend, Vitz and Zenor decided to change the musical, even though doing so has caused some problems for the CG Theatre Department.

“Part of the reason we announced the show so early is because more goes on behind the scenes than people realize,” Vitz said. “Not only do you have to choose the show, you also have to get the rights to it. You have to make sure no one in the community is doing the same show. The script company does that research for us.”

Vitz said the Theatre Department has already paid $4000 to put on the production. They are hoping that the script company will allow the school to apply this money to a different show.

Preparations for auditions take time as well. The Theatre Department must choose a choreographer, decide excerpts from the script for actors and plan music.  Once they do all of that, students must be given enough time to prepare for auditions.

And of course, none of this includes rehearsals, set construction and other normal pre-play planning.

Vitz said she considered moving the musical to the spring; however, with the Music Department’s schedule of show choir performances in the spring, it wouldn’t work for students or directors.

“We will be anywhere from two weeks to a month behind on our production,” Vitz said. “Because of that, whatever show we do choose will have to be much smaller because we are going to have to have a tight-knit group of students who can pull off a three-month production in two.”

At this point, Vitz does not know what the new show will be. With only 80 days before opening night, she and other members of the Theatre Department are scrambling.

“It’s going to be a stressful couple of weeks,” Vitz said. “No one is angry or throwing a fit. It is stressful, and there is a lot to be thought about and fixed, but we’re going to be fine, and we’re still going to put on a wonderful show.”