Parents try to bring curtain down on school play

Concerned parents at Allentown High School don't want their children gracing the stage in a planned spring production of the musical "Rent."

Parents like Kathy Toth, who is trying to stop the show from going on as planned, says the issues addressed in the show are too much for teens in her community to handle.

"It's my moral upbringing," says Toth. "Today in the township of Allentown or Millstone, you don't see AIDS victims, homosexuals on the streets. I don't take my children to the Lower East Side to see those types of problems. When they're old enough and mature enough to understand those issues, they will see it for themselves."

Toth claims nearly 30 people have signed her petition to stop the production. Allentown's principal says considering 1,100 students attend the school, the critics are far outnumbered.

The play has been edited for high school performances, but still carries an R-rating for adult content. The school's musical director, Mark Megill, argues that the show helps teach social tolerance and compassion. Megill also says the show gives the school and parents the opportunity to discuss world issues.

"I think we do have drug issues in this school," he says. "We do have homeless people in New Jersey and just because they're not on your street doesn't mean they don't exist."

Curtains open on the show in early March. Allentown is among 15 high schools and youth theaters in New York and New Jersey performing the show this school year.

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