My teenager will be the first to tell you that I think too much about things no one else will challenge.
And I’m about to go on a rant. This rant might make me unpopular in some circles.
And I blame it all on the Freddies.
Now, if you are not from the Lehigh Valley, you probably don’t know what the Freddies are. Basically, a local non-profit theater and the regional television station created a competition for high school musicals. (For more info, visit State Theatre for the Arts.)
In my opinion, this created a “need” for schools to do productions outside their range in order to look good in the local media. Our public schools should not have to prove the value of their arts programs via a popularity contest aired on TV.
Today the teenager and I went to see “Once Upon a Mattress” (the princess and the pea musical) at a fairly small local high school. The first thing that shocked me was paid adult musicians in the pit. It’s a high school play. Why aren’t there high school musicians? Isn’t it cheating to use paid musicians?
The kids did an amazing job, but the show seemed like some of the kids were out of their range or needed another week of rehearsal time. Which, in their defense again, it is very hard to pace a high school show to peak at the right time.
But I can’t find any fault with the performers. They gave their hearts and souls and full effort.
I just wish schools would stop pushing big production musicals if the student body isn’t equipped to do it. And so I blame the Freddies.
Now, for my second rant. This one is attacking the show from a feminist perspective.
The director says in her letter printed in the program that she was excited to do such a classic theatre piece with a strong female lead. She also praises the script for its themes, that people will find acceptance and love despite their quirks.
This play is based on the premise that a woman has to pass tests and prove herself to be loved and accepted. That even other women will test a woman’s intentions and doubt her worth. Meanwhile, the father (the mute King Sextimus) chases every female character he encounters and the audience laughs.
And the Queen is hardest of all when it comes to accepting a mate for her son. She dreams up the impossible tests and only allows the marriage when she is suddenly struck mute.
She also gives a long monologue about how it’s fine that she be miserable in marriage and that’s her duty as a true princess.
Not to mention, we’re laughing at a play extolling arranged marriage. Now in the end, the castle staff fixes the test so the woman the prince loves will pass. Prince Dauntless then marries for love.
But he doesn’t marry for love.
He marries because she’s a princess. In the end, love didn’t unite them. Her princess status did. Which maybe you can argue because the Queen tries to stop it and Dauntless yells at his mother and insists he’s going to do it anyway. In my view, he waited too long to make that point valid.