At Plano Children's Theatre, They've Shampooed All the Black Kids out of Hairspray

Categories: Theater

kids in hairspray560.jpg
The kids of Hairspray

You need two things when you do the musical Hairspray: a fat girl to play the lead character, Tracy Turnblad, and a bunch of African-American kids to play the African-American kids. There are about a dozen roles for young black performers in this show, plus one for a big black lady who closes out the first act with the showstopper "Big, Blonde and Beautiful."

So out at Plano Children's Theatre right now, they're doing Hairspray without those things. The girl playing Tracy is wearing padding to puff up. (This isn't a role like Cyrano where you can slap a big nose on a pretty face and get away with it. Tracy is supposed to be chubbo to start with.) And there are no black kiddos in the show. None. The roles of Seaweed, Mother Maybelle and all the other black Baltimoreans are being played by kids so white they make the Cleavers look ethnic.

Somebody tipped me off via email to this all-teen production, which runs through February 12. I don't normally review shows at PCT, one of those pay-for-play outfits that charges parents $250 a pop for their kids to be on the stage. PCT styles itself as an academy. Their motto is "developing characters."

I went to the Saturday, January 28, matinee of PCT's Hairspray, bought a $10 ticket and watched the show. Or most of it. I left after my intermission interviews with people on the staff. I'd seen enough by then. My emotional/ethical elevator had already pushed the button for the floor marked "High Dudgeon."

hairsprayreal560.jpg
This is how the production normally looks.
Hairspray is a musical comedy based on an old John Waters movie. The show is done all the time at high schools and community theaters around here. There are five more local productions in the works right now, including one at the drama department at Plano's Collin College that opens March 1. You may also have seen the movie version of the musical, which stars John Travolta in drag as Tracy's mother, Edna.

The premise of all of these Hairsprays is the same: A fat, funny teenage girl in 1960s Baltimore dreams of joining the cool kids on the "council" of a local afternoon TV dance show. She becomes a political activist when she discovers that her black friends at high school aren't allowed on the show except on "Negro day." How Tracy, Seaweed and their gang of dancing misfits integrate "The Corny Collins Show" is what Hairspray is about. The fat girl also gets the good-looking guy as her boyfriend. Good, clean fun with a serious message about segregation, acceptance of differences and how things used to be in America.

And how they still are at the corner of Custer Road and 15th Street in Plano, in the dreary strip mall/office park where Plano Children's Theatre sits.

The matinee I attended was full of proud parents, grandparents and others who didn't seem to notice or mind that the little white boy playing Seaweed was singing the lyrics "the blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice" as he gyrated in some awkward approximation of Hairspray's dirty-dancing to "race music." Maybe they didn't know Seaweed and his soul-singing sister, Little Inez, are supposed to be African-American. Maybe they didn't care that Mother Maybelle, Seaweed's mother, was being played by a white girl in a curly blond wig singing this: "They say that white has might and thin is in/ Well, that's just bull 'cause ladies big is back/ And as for black, it's beautiful!"

hairspray tracy220.jpg
There are also no naturally big girls in Plano.
At intermission, I spoke to Darrell Rodenbaugh, president of PCT's board of directors. My question was "Why do you have white kids playing black characters?"

"Well, should we deny these kids the opportunity to do a fun show?" he said. "We'd paid for the rights to the show six months in advance. We couldn't cancel it."

Didn't any black kids audition? No, said Rodenbaugh, it's hard to recruit black kids to PCT because there aren't that many in Plano. (African-Americans make up less than 8 percent of the Plano, Texas, population of 259,841, according to the most recent census numbers.)

So why do a show with black characters in it if you know going in that you won't have any black kids to play them? Rodenbaugh had several answers about how much the kids wanted to do Hairspray, how they weren't going to bow to "political correctness" and how "the parents expect this."

They expect to see white kids playing black characters? "Yes," said Rodenbaugh, who has kids in the cast of Hairspray, one of them playing Little Inez. He said PCT also did the musical Once on This Island with an all-white cast. (It's an Ahrens and Flaherty show that's basically Romeo and Juliet set in the French Antilles. It's usually cast along racial lines, with black actors playing the peasants and Anglos playing the upper classes. There is a version of the show that removes references to skin color and makes the story about class differences. I don't know if PCT did the latter.)

Rodenbaugh said they might do To Kill a Mockingbird with an all-white cast or Othello or The Wiz (three shows I mentioned to him that feature African-Americans either in prominent roles or as a majority of the cast). He said he saw nothing offensive or amiss about having no black actors in a show about racial segregation. I had to ask: Doesn't having an all-white cast ignore the core message of Hairspray - you know, the message about how the black kids weren't allowed to be on a show with white kids until brave little Tracy took a stand?

Rodenbaugh told me each young member of the PCT Hairspray cast had been asked to write a "report" about what the plot was about. "They're learning a good lesson in this show," he said.

I'm sure they are. I'm just not sure it's the right lesson.

Hairspray's director, Cassidy Crown, caught up with me in the parking lot. She kept saying PCT has to work with what they have and she did feel uncomfortable with the all-white cast. I got the impression she had hoped nobody would notice.

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342 comments
Visitor
Visitor

I applaud you for writing a well balanced article here, it's clear you're upset but you put across the director and producer's points saliently without resorting to vitriol. I'd suggest that racial segregation is a problem across the world (and indeed between different groups of white people) and to assume 'Hairspray' only resonates with the particular case of black and white diminishes it somewhat. What of productions outside the USA where the race divisions differ for instance?


As even MTI said, suspension of disbelief in theatre has been around for a very long time. Just look to Shakespeare's female rules being originally played by men to evidence this. Theatre troupes work with what they have. I can only assume that what sounds like an otherwise poor quality show may have soured you somewhat on this particular point, but I would urge you to consider your position more closely.

Guest
Guest

The black kids were not "shampooed" out of the cast.  Have you ever heard of colorblind casting? PCT's goal is to develop the best performer they can out of all their kids and help them fulfill their dream, REGARDLESS of their appearance. Sometimes at Plano Children's Theatre, kids drop roles due to conflicts, etc. They are currently doing Legally Blonde, and the first month of rehearsals isn't even over yet, and five people have dropped out due to outside conflicts.The students, parents, and faculty members at Plano Children's Theatre would never even think of treating individuals differently according to color, race, religion, size, class, or appearance. Hairspray was an ACE(Acting Company for Excellence--their advanced production group) Production. Their ACE Productions are FABULOUS. They did Les Mis back in the spring---over half the shows sold out. There were many requests for a fourth weekend(there were initially only three weekend runs) of the show because it was selling out too quickly. Though I'm sure you wouldn't have liked Les Mis. Because you don't believe in casting regardless of race.After all, one of their Valjeans was Indian. As was one of their Eponines, one of their Fantines... One Madame Thenardier was thin. One Msr. Thendardier was significantly smaller than all the Madame Thenardiers, by height AND weight. One Javert was about 5'2. Standing next to the 6'2 Jean Valjean? You would think it would look strange, and not work, right? The boy playing Javert played the character's personality to be so big, so fierce, that when you watched them confront each other, you saw Javert to be bigger than he really was.  And the girl playing Little Inez? Her stage presence and voice were so powerful, that you didn't even think of her as "the little white girl playing Inez". When she sang, her color changed before your eyes.  You can bring these characters to life REGARDLESS of what color you are. Some of these actors are very, very talented. But you're too d*mn narrow-minded to appreciate their work.

Mariah
Mariah

This is too bad. I think that if you know you can't fill the need for African American roles, don't put on a show about civil rights!

Bmoves
Bmoves

Wow! Just seeing this article. Wish I could say it was unbelievable but nope, Just sad. Thanks for "noticing" and spreading the word!

Just an observer
Just an observer

I don't know the socioeconomic (SES) background of Plano, TX, but one could explore the argument that the cast wasn't ethnically diverse because non-Hispanic Caucasian people tend to also be the wealthiest. So when a theatre asks parents to PAY for their kids to act in a show, guess which ethnicity is going to have the funds to allow their children to participate? This is not a statement of fact, only a national SES trend, but something to consider.

Theresa Redford jr.
Theresa Redford jr.

Actually, it's NOT okay to cast white people as any ethnicity, cause that's whitewashing. People don't seem to know or care, though.

Theresa Redford jr.
Theresa Redford jr.

Yeah, its' definetly off, seeing as race was a huge point of the play.

Drbfrancis
Drbfrancis

OMG..this is just so "Texas."   I lived in the Lone Star state  for four years and couldn't wait to leave, primarily because of the the now-underground and socially normalized prejudice that runs rampant.  My grandchildren have been part of the Plano Children's Theatre, and while I appreciate that the organization provides opportunities for youngsters to perform onstage, I also realize that the fees that those opportunties aren't accessible to a large sector of the of the population.  For God's sake, wasn't this an opportunity to offer some pro bono scholarships to some deserving black kids who couldn't participate otherwise?  Was there absolutely no one who had half a clue about what this play symbolizes to the black community...particularly in a southern State?  Clearly, it is no wonder that African Americans continue to feel disrespected and disenfranchised.  And, no, I'm not black, but quite frankly, this kind of situation makes me feel ashamed to be white.   

Nik K
Nik K

As Maybelle sings, "Tomorrow is a brand new day and it don't know white from black." Black kids weren't scrubbed from the show by the artistic staff, the town is just mostly white and the few black kids dropped out. It's kinda funny to get attacked for basically being racial insensitive when you're doing a show that promotes an end to racial bigotry. One could make the case that it actually makes a powerful point to have an all white cast and see the characters beating up on each other for...nothing. Which is about as much of a nothing to pick on someone over as actual skin color would be. But instead of listening to Maybelle, the author wants to get her bloomers in a wad and call out the PC police. Race will never become irrelevant if you keep ranting when the races aren't in their proper place. Let's do a production of Hairspray with black actors as the white characters and white actors as the black characters. We'll tie Ms. Liner up in a room somewhere and make her watch a tape of it on a loop until she gets a clue. 

Carlhen
Carlhen

Well, here in the Houston/Pasadena area most of the shows that feature young boys are filled with teen girls. (Oliver) You cast what you have show up.

Bryan-Keyth Wilson
Bryan-Keyth Wilson

As an African-American Director/Choreographer this fuels my plight to get more people of color involved in Musical Theatre. In my area they are producing a production of "Hairspray" and they are dealing with the same issues. I feel if you can't fulfill the needs of the script then you need to re-think you theatre season. I am a firm believer in color-blind casting because when I worked as a performer it was slim-pickings when it came to roles for African-Americans on the Great White Way. Use what you got and make it work, come on that's Theatre 101. If I know my demographic and the enrollment that I have, I would be putting a nail in my coffin if I decided to produce "Dreamgirls" at an all white school. There are so many "Fun" musicals out there so to the artistic directors out there, let's remember our role as artists and think about what is most important. We have to remember that we are storytellers and at the end of the day it is about the story. 

JANE LANE
JANE LANE

There are hundreds upon hundreds of show they could have done. I don't understand why, when race is central to the plot, they would put on a show like this with an all white cast.  Squawking that race shouldn't matter is well and good, and I don't disagree, but the reality is that it does. Pretending it's not there does a grave disservice. Not to mention, the story stops making sense if there are no black characters in Hairspray. It's a story about integration, among other things. We shouldn't be shying away from that or acting like it doesn't matter.

Cec19971
Cec19971

Okay why did they not find a green person to play the which in wicked. Get with the times ther are Asians playing black kids!!!!!!

Justice Marie Fuller
Justice Marie Fuller

"The Wiz" doesn't have to be all Black people...would it be lame with an all white cast?  Maybe.  But it's doable....but their Blackness isn't a PLOT point, the way it is in "Hairspray"...how you gonna have a lily white cast of kids dancing on "Negro Day"?!  It's the theatre company's fault for not reaching out to the community and trying to find kids.  They said they got the rights 6 months in advance; that would have been plenty of time to find 6 black kids.  Come on, now.

anon
anon

My daughter is currently a Musical Theater major at a very white school. She is having trouble getting roles, because, as she puts it - they already have their two stereotyped black girls and they don't need a third. They have one dark skinned "girl from the hood" and the another "light skinned almost white girl." They don't have room for the quirky, nerdy, light skinned ethnic girl so she 's considering transferring to another college since her GPA has never been higher.I'm trying to get her to consider an HBCU with a musical theater department but she won't.

C
C

I live in Allen, which is right outside of Plano and I find it hard to believe that they could not find a chubby white girl to play the lead role or any black children to play the lead roles. The director of the show should have sent flyers to schools across Plano to notify children and parents of the play so that their child could audition. I feel sorry for the kids, who will forever be known as one of those white kids who played in a controversial all-white cast of Hairspray in Plano, Texas, it truly is horrible and embarrassing. I wouldn't have allowed my child to perform in that play and forever scar their name. Especially, if the child is actually serious about acting and wants to perform on Broadway someday. 

Guest
Guest

Someone might have mentioned this before so I apologize if I'm being redundant. Just for the sake of accuracy: "Once Upon this Island" is based on "The Little Mermaid" not "Romeo and Juliet".

Mamasaidno
Mamasaidno

What idiot thought Hairspray was a good idea for a bunch of kids to do anyway? Jesus ... Divine even had his doubts about it - that show is WAAAAYYYY too adult for a bunch of kids to do. HELLO?! Obviously they all have a screw loose if a bunch of 12 and 13 year olds are playing Edna Turnblatt? WTF? What idiot director agreed to that insanity. You expect them to get racial equality? They can even get age-appropriate! HA!

Stuffyhead
Stuffyhead

Isn't the founder of this theater the former Mayor of Plano's Wife? If so, that is very disturbing to me. Is this the kind of leadership Plano has? I thought we solved all this in the 60's?

Theatredad
Theatredad

Aren't these the same people who lost their funding last year because they couldn't show where it all went. Why are we supporting these people?

Charlo Crossley Fortier
Charlo Crossley Fortier

Well. It just goes to show you that in Plano, there ARE no black people in their world. Kind of like the Republican/Tea Party folk who think the same way.So, they ruined a beautiful story. What a bunch of idiots!

Amy
Amy

GOOD GRIEF, this is a children's theater.....not Broadway!  You have to work with the kids who want to be involved in theater.  If there are no African Americans, then there are no African Americans.  Get over it!  At least these kids are involved in something and not out getting in trouble!

Chelsea
Chelsea

Sorry, but I have to correct a small mistake. The upper class characters in "Once on this Island" are NOT played by Anglos. They are played by black people as well, but black people who are lighter-skinned than the black people who portray the peasants. Proof: 1) In the opening song, "We Dance", a character speaks of the upper class characters and says, "With their pale brown skins." 2) The role of Daniel was originated on Broadway by Jerry Dixon (http://broadwayworld.com/peopl.... This is a simple mistake, but the story is not about a doomed relationship between a black woman and a white man. It's about a doomed relationship between a dark-skinned black woman and light-skinned black man.

young audience theatre artist
young audience theatre artist

So much is wrong with this production. There is SOOO SOOO SOOO much great theatre for young people to do! This company aside from being completely untrue to the intent of the story are doing a disservice to all of the young people in the cast and working on the production. By doing this they are not teaching these young artists some of the most important principles of creating theatre. Not only is casting white actors in african american roles wrong it does nothing to further the story!!! Nothing! And as theatre artists if we are not being true to the story and honest about the story we are telling than what is the point? While we are at it why not just dress the kids in corsets and frock coats and further misrepresent the story. there is just no point. And shame on the adults for taking the pay check.... no matter how good these kids are they can in no way be honest actors under these circumstances.... so the director is basically just teaching them to lie to the audience for the sake of a few fun songs. 

Another truly sad thing is that, during an entire course I took in college on African American theatre and as many discussions we had on color blind casting and casting in general based around this subject, I was naive enough to think "theatre people" are a group that is the most aware of all of these topics why is this even a problem..... well African American theatre class let me submit this article for your attentions. 

Also Ladies and gentlemen, colleagues, all of the rest of you that charge yourself with the theatrical education of the young, please be more aware than this. this is just sad 

Lil Voss
Lil Voss

That just shows you how racist most of Plano is...All-American City" cause you see "All American Discrimination"

Fbcreative
Fbcreative

WOW!!! Prejudice MUCH? I've never heard such a prejudice statement in my life! You've totally exemplified the definition by lumping a whole city into one stereotype to foster and promote a hatred for people different from yourself. I don't live in Plano, but I know many who do and you are grossly mistaken if you think your characterization applies to everyone. There are people struggling just to make ends meet just like everywhere else. And this bashing of these kids and a children's theatre that everyone is doing is reprehensible. I just can't get over how mean and hateful people can actually be.

Paybacksabitch
Paybacksabitch

I believe what is at the heart of this discussion is NOT the children or their show. The furvor of angry parents & glory-days reflectionist aside, the discussion here is -  Do the citizens of Plano want their tax dollars funding this type of endeavor or supporting a group whose basical values & fuindamental doctrine of entitlement seems to be something they wish to proliferate in all youth.?  If PCT is truly an academy, then why does it need grant money (more than $180,000 a year from the city according to public record) to support it? If you like your programs and your people support it, get your students to fully pay for your programs and stop taking funds from the city & state. This is a free country, while I abhore what they have done, they are free to do it and so is anyone else. Amos & Andy was beloved by millions, but it finally went the way of the dinosaur because, when the public saw it for what it TRULY was, there was not corporate funding to support it. You will find, when you get right down to it, that fringe ideals die when they are brought to the light of day and are asked to stand on their own two feet. This is not about bashing kids or nose-picking or even why the tubby kids didn't get their chances. The truth is PCT has long done whatever they wanted and thumbed their noses at anyone who disagreed with them.. Noone who knows the organization is suprised at what they have done. What most of us are shocked about is that they have never been called on it before & why are we, the city of Plano, STILL funding it? If the parents and kids want to uphold their values, views & shows, great! Let them pay for it. Personally, as a voter & taxpayer in the city, I am appauled that this organization is still being funded by MY money. This is a group that just one year ago had ALL of its funding pulled because it could not meet the burden of proof that it had allocated our money correctly. When they stormed city hall with Tshirts and materials demanding the city reconsider, our leaders gave in & succumbed to their ridiculous demands, granting them almost half of budget the city auditor had flattly denied and recommended not be allocatd to them. Now, one year later with the same leaders making decisions  and obviously the same bad decisions, they recieved MORE funding, to do what? Make us all look bad. I don't care how many shows they do, their attitude and ignorance is obvious and anyone who has spent any time speaking with their "instructors" (one of which could not even pass her teaching certifitcate test to teach in the public schools & another who taught there for years with a criminal record) can atest to that We have yet to recieve a valid excuse from the city as to why PCT is still recieving funding when time and again they have proven they cannot handle the responsibility of our trust either fisically or ethically. It is time to look to OTHER arts organizations for leadership and for stewardship of our monies. Ones that have proven and contiune to prove their all-encompassing dedication to the COMMUNITY and not to the elite. If the city cannot do that come election day, it may be time to find leaders who will.

PCTalum
PCTalum

If this were a big production at, say, Dallas Summer Musicals, I would understand the uproar. This article in general is ridiculous. As a recent alum of PCT, I can actually vouch FROM EXPERIENCE that this production of Hairspray was not an intentional slam on black children in the community. The author of the article even stated "I don't normally review shows at PCT". Clearly, the author did not thoroughly research the theatre and turned this into a "It's because I'm black, isn't it?" racial problem. According to the logic of this article, traditional characters should not be played by non-traditional actors and stereotyping of roles is necessary. So, Judas in the Bible? I don't believe he was black. THERE SHOULD NEVER BE A BLACK JUDAS IN JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR OR IT'S RACIST. Eponine in Les Miserables? She's traditionally white. That definitely shouldn't be played by a black person. It's already disheartening enough as it is to not be able to play certain roles because of its traditional stereotype on the big stage. I will never be able to play Belle in Beauty in the Beast for a major production because I have tan skin. But, at PCT, I got to play Sarah in Guys and Dolls who is traditionally white. Are you REALLY trying to take that away from little kids who maybe really love the role of Tracy but they weren't graced with chubbiness to be able to fit the stereotype of the role? Granted, that is the way the show was written, but that's the beauty of community children's theatre: stereotypes can be breached so other kids have a chance to play a character they normally don't get to play.Also, I am so outraged that this author is criticizing the talent of kids. The point of PCT is to teach kids to be confident in who they are. And to encourage them in something they love, whether or not they have natural ability. By slamming the talent of the PCT kids, the author is completely undermining the feelings of these kids just to get a rise out of people because of PCT's Hairspray production and its supposed slanderous racial implications. PCT is not an individual rehearsal company. The directors have to deal with a lot of kids each rehearsal and work with what they have. Unfortunately, since they want as many kids as possible to have a chance at performing in a role, they have to double or triple cast. This makes it incredibly difficult for directors to hone individual skills. But, that's not what these kids pay for, and that's not what productions in general are about. High school and professional productions only take the best of the best and anything you learn is based on the skill you already know. It's the same at PCT. If kids want individual attention, PCT also offers individual classes. Granted, there is some political drama at PCT (what organization doesn't have that), and yes, the powerful message of Hairspray may not be as powerful with an all-white cast. But, let kids be kids. Hairspray is a very popular musical with PCT kids. This year the kids got a chance to vote on which musicals they'd like to do and an overwhelming majority voted for Hairspray. It's a shame that this author is trying to strip away the love that these kids have for the musical by making it about race.

This is very long-winded but I am very passionate about PCT. Don't get me wrong, racial adversity rubs me the wrong way as much as the next guy, but I just feel like this article was just digging for racial implications. 

And the director/choreographer should not have apologized for putting on a great show and promoting equality on all levels.

Hfintexas
Hfintexas

Ms. Liner, did you miss the PCT production of the Sound of Music featuring a multi-racial Von Trapp family?  I looked everywhere for your scathing review, but couldn't find it.  Surely by your logic, this must be just as wrong as an all-white Hairspray?  No?Give me a break.  These are children, who are a part of a small theatre group and who want to put on a good show and have fun doing it.  No, the message is not lost by having an all white cast - that was not planned!  It ended up that way, and the authors of Hairspray have personally acknowledged that not every community will have the perfect ethnic make-up to cast the play as written.  And... That's ok!  Its community theatre, and you do the show with the actors you have.  Rather the message would be lost by telling these kids, "No, you can't do this play because you are white." racism is racism, either way. Not only is the author's argument ludicrous, taking shots at the kids performing just further weakens her credibility.  This is a CHILDREN'S theatre group, where the emphasis is on gaining confidence and experience, rather than on a flawless performance.  Lastly, if the author had done 2 minutes worth of research, she would have discovered that PCT is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and the cost of tuition does not cover the cost to perform these plays.  The rights are not free, and there are other costs involved including things like facility rental, lighting bills, directors, music, etc.

PanDuh
PanDuh

WOW, great thing he made the kids write a report!!! That totally makes up for the fact that hes white washing a show that is suppose to have a black cast! He sure knows how to stick it to da man for not breaking his back at political correctness! These kids will learn a good hearty lesson that, even though you are doing something wrong, its alright because writing a report sure does give it the extra zing to make them understand the purpose behind Hairspray!!! :DDD Where would we be without white people playing roles designed specifically for PoC!?!? I'll tell ya where, to the commie country!!!!!!

Broadwaybabyroja
Broadwaybabyroja

If you've never been to "happy,Fun- Land where the abundance of "Stepford FAMILY units" I had ever imagined to exist as well as aspire to I've ever imagined be actually REA people (?if that's what one calls REAL!?!) PLANO is the Capitol of such a place!Their epic parties incise Golf cartsTo trick or treat, as well as just get from party to party and the competition to holdthe most over-the-top party in their McMansions complete with eho gas the best and certainlyost expensive Media Rooms, Pools, outdoor kitchens, Cars. And of course keep their spawn in classes where similar competitiveness is expected.Look out Texas, these children will run our standards of values... Masked as Christian Values! They would likely redefineThe phrase " what would Jesus Do?" to suit their lifestyles! The story snout this production of Hairspray is just one example of the unspoken club membership among these vapid, shallow people. It's pretty ironicGiven the steady diet of Alchoholic medications are the Norm since it's a "dry" area....as well as other the prescribed medsLike antidepressants, "pain" pills and other mind altering meds are practically innthe waterSupply. I'm sure that's being investigated!!!!

hellayella
hellayella

@Guest Wow, this article just went way way over your head, didn't it?

txsaneman
txsaneman

That sounds like a lot of assumptions or direct knowledge...or at least I hope so when you make a statement like "the few black kids dropped out."  But I could agree that there may be some pieces of the author's story that are presumptuous. I don't think the author's main point attacks a school/academy with no black students or at least, no black students who wanted to participate in this play (the latter being a little more telling.) I think it was more about why was there seemingly no effort made to include black students in the play.  Yeah, you're right this play could be done in reverse or all of one race; but it would not speak to the truth and history of this work or the reality in which it was based.

Bryan-Keyth Wilson
Bryan-Keyth Wilson

I totally agree, but making a little girl look like a little boy does not compromise the integrity of the story! I have seen countless productions of Oliver where many of the orphans and even Oliver was played by little girls. I am in the Clear Lake/ League City area! Hello neighbor! 

txsaneman
txsaneman

I think you're wrong.  I think they should have found at least one of the many green people of I'm assuming Forestasian background to play the witch.  They exist don't they? 

PCTalum
PCTalum

I KNOW seriously, it is so racist that the producers of Wicked didn't find a green person to play Elphaba. Using someone of a different color and PAINTING her green?! Seriously, that's just insulting.

Guest
Guest

Are you kidding me? We have to watch what plays we are part of at age 5 so we don't harm our Broadway careers?

Do you really think that there was advertising that excluded schools? Do you think the ad said blacks need not apply?

PCT theatre gladly accepts any child interested in acting. They provide a loving and encouraging environment no matter the color of a person's skin. See for yourself if these people are really racist. Wouldn't that be wierd though? Racists performing a play espousing equality?

p.s. If you think your children actually have that one-in-a-million shot at Brodadway, perhaps you should encourage them to use stage names in case they get picked on like these poor kids.

Guest
Guest

I guess you didn't read how the choreographer is black? I'm sure that the story doesn't have as much power without black actors, but it wasn't like they were excluded. Also, I see posts from others that have been to plays at this theatre when a black actor was performing a white role. I think you need to do some more research here before categorizing this theatre as part of the Tea Party crowd. Theatre people are pretty liberal, don't you know?

Bob
Bob

Good idea! Let's just call an entire city racist. That's a great way to root out actual racism in this country. It's just like how everything worked out for the boy who cried wolf.

Nancy
Nancy

If you don't want to be lumped together as a bunch of racists then stop letting youur tax dollars go to support a racist group ....like the other guy said. Nobody in Plano seems to mind giving these people their money. So you must agree with what they are sayin

Bob
Bob

Wow, so much hate for an organization that just puts on plays with kids. This is one of the most harmless associations out there. Kids go there and have a good time and sing and dance and put on a show. Clearly you have some personal vendetta against them that you're hiding here. Did your kid not get cast in the lead role or something?

Whitegurls
Whitegurls

Judas was jewish not black so if you want to present the actual story so we can suspend our disbelief then when you say ... this guy is black ... maybe he should be black. How niave that you, a little white girl, got to play all the parts you wanted, I bet things look good in that tower ... man you are whack!. "Graced with chubbiness?" You have no clue how the real world works ... stay in Plano rich little white girl cause out here in the real world you won't last 5 minutes. You are beyond clueless

Dogday
Dogday

But wait ... if they get all this funding why do they have to charge tuition? That's a lot of money and only a third of. The 8funding grand would go to royalty and payroll where is the rest going if they aren't spending it on sets and costumes? Something seems fishy here ....if they are getting city money and ticket money and tuition money why can't they bring in black actors and pay them if you have a need fill it ...lots of people out of wwork ... have tbese people been auditted lately?

pcmacmom
pcmacmom

Have you actually been to Plano? I have family and friends who live there. Never seen a golf cart in their neighborhoods. Just as you have Highland Park and other affluent areas of Dallas, there are those places in Plano. There are also simple neighborhoods, duplexes, multi-family houses and many houses that are rented under Section 8 rules. It seems that the stereotyping we abhor when it comes to race and ethnicity is fine when it comes to the city in which a person lives. Very sad to see such hate and anger in this thread of comments.

C
C

Its obvious that you have a low reading comprehension level. I did not say anything about the theatre being racist, but I did say that I find it hard to believe that they could not find one single black child or chubby white girl to play the part. Also, Broadway is not that far fetched as becoming a doctor, nurse, lawyer, or accountant. If you are motivated and a hard worker you can eventually achieve all of your goals in life. I pray that you do not have children with such a bleak outlook on life. 

Donnysmarie
Donnysmarie

If I remember correctly the only reason the boy got eaten was because the citizens ignored a real threat and dismissed a real problem ... sound familiar?

Paybacksabitch
Paybacksabitch

I did not think I was hiding anything. I thought I was pretty clear. Obviosly not, so let me be clear about my motives so you don't misconstrue them. I don't want my money or my city to be associated with people who think it is okay to mount a production about racial inequality and leave out the race for whom the play was written. The purpose of such works is to highlight the injustice & inequality to whom and for whom those acts were/are levied against. The fact that this message is lost on these people and the seriousness of their naivety shows how far we, as a nation, have to go in the fight for tolerance & equality. Just so you don't dismiss me, again, as being an angry black woman ... I am white by the way, male, divorced, affluent, have a 6 figure job, no kids, no serious pychological issues and no agenda). I do not hate Bob - I will leave that to the people who hide behind a script and a bunch of kids.  I am sure the kids,themselves, did a great job and are all very talented and probably are all "peachy keen" - I have no problem with the kids. My issue, as I stated, is with the administration. Those who lead - should lead and take us all in the right direction. If you are taking us off a cliff do not expect us all to smile and say "they just didn't know any better." Just for your edification, several years ago this same theatre tried to mount a play called "Steal Away Home," which was about the underground railroad. Guess what Bob, they left out the black people then too! This was nota one-time mistake, it's a pattern of behavior.  That's right, Bob, a whole play about the plight of the slave and not a person of ANY color (except white) in the whole production. The only reason that production didn't get any press was because the preview audience was so appauled with the final product that they all insisted the theatre pull it from the line-up before it went on tour to ... where? .... the public schools! Still think they are just a bunch of nice white folks doing a play for kids?

PCTalum
PCTalum

Oh man. I think you should read my comment again to see what I actually meant. Yes, Judas in the Bible was jewish...obviously. Judas in the MUSICAL Jesus Christ Superstar is usually cast as a black actor. I was stating that since Judas is jewish in the Bible, then, by the terms of this author, a black person should not be cast at Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar. Apparently you did not catch my sarcasm there, but that's alright. Always obliged to explain. And you should really think about what you write before you write it. In my comment I said, and I quote, "I will never be able to play Belle in Beauty in the Beast for a major production because I have tan skin." Ethically, I'm from a Caribbean island and am definitely NOT white. I'm not really sure what your comment was trying to accomplish except to hatefully put me down. Which is kind of what this article was doing. So thank you, for highlighting my point.

Guest
Guest

Why so hateful? Anyway, what do you do if you can't get enough black actors? Do you really have to sit it out on such a great story about acceptance? Can you offer some suggestions on how to get more non-white kids interested? Oh, and boys too, they are always casting girls in boys parts because they can't get enough boys interested in theatre.

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