From Orange County to Detroit: Rent Debate Rages On


After much lobbying, Orange County’s Corona del Mar High School will see students perform Rent. But that doesn’t mean the Tony-winning musical has been sanitized enough for the rest of the country. Like in a Detroit suburb, where a youth group hoping to perform the school-friendly version of the show just saw their hopes drowned by over-sensitive administrators.

In Taylor, Michigan, the city-funded Taylor Teen Youth Theatre had already cast some two dozen actors for its Rent production — and then city administrators pulled out the carpet. The decision came in early January, reports The Detroit News, with an excuse that seems to be echoing throughout America: Even the toned down, school-friendly version of Rent is too risque for kids to produce.


“There’s always a point where you have to wonder about appropriateness,” says Mike O’Malley, Taylor’s executive director of Parks and Recreation. “We’ve received feedback from people who said it’s a good decision not to continue with this and other people who said the arts should push the envelope … there’s a fine line.”

This, after the city already paid the licensing fee for the show. Now the kids are scrambling to make sure the show still goes on, using their own cash to re-apply for the rights. Taylor Teen Youth Theatre group director Dione Carrico says they’ll need $10,000 to get it done, to pay for rights and a new location. “I made a commitment to my kids,” she says. “We’re keeping this together.” They hope the curtain goes up in July.