To the editor:
I feel compelled to share some thoughts on the Arts Alive! / Hampden Meadows production that took place at BHS this weekend.
I am sure all can appreciate the difficulty in producing a theatrical undertaking that provides roles and parts for 150-plus students. Moreover, the disparity in gender adds to the challenge. The inclusion of all is no doubt admirable.
There was clearly no shortage of enthusiasm and joy evidenced by all of the young thespians at all performances.
Theater indeed does wonders to improve young people’s self-confidence, poise and pride in accomplishment.
It seems counter-intuitive to me however to bring such scandalous performances to the stage by fourth- and fifth-graders. While the Broadway Review theme brought opportunity to provide numerous roles to would-be performers, a number of the scores were entirely inappropriate for such young children.
The Little Shop of Horrors number had fourth-graders portraying street-corner hookers on Skid Row. Replete with slinky dresses and provocative posing…
The Hairspray song includes lyrics around putting away toys to play with teenage boys and entreaties for a mother to “not have a cow” over a hickey. Not to mention arguing against motherly advice.
The introductory segues seemed simply a venue to have 10-year-olds dress up like hyper-sexualized characters from both past and present pop-culture. How can we expect the young girls of Barrington to grow up with a sense of self-esteem and self-respect when they’re reduced to playing caricatures of sexualized women in theatrical productions?
They’re compelled to portray characterizations that are salacious and unsuitable for a grade school production.
Arts Alive!’s intention is wonderful and I fully support it. The over-sexualized production presented this weekend was poorly vetted and inappropriate. The unfortunate roles for our young girls did nothing to empower our town’s impressionable daughters.
I am hopeful that future projects will be more conscious of our children.
Paul H. Crosby