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Letter to the editor: Mel Brooks musical at Northrop too 'edgy'

Tuesday, May 7, 2013 - 12:01 am

We were a little shocked when we attended Northrop High School’s play, “The Producers,” a Mel Brooks musical.

Director Tim Miller started by thanking a number of people. Northrop’s Principal Barbara Ahlersmeyer won thanks for approving the performance of the show, which Miller admitted was a “little edgy,” with plenty for everyone to object to.

The things I objected to included the sexual emphasis of the play and the students’ participation in this emphasis. The two main actors often grabbed their own crotches. One of the students grabbed another’s rear end, and the girls in the chorus line were pinched. I also objected to the frequent use of God’s name in vain, and I supposed it might be illegal if the students had been using his name in earnest.

Then there was the general immorality depicted. Producer Max gained money to fund the shows by having sexual encounters with old ladies. Motivated by a lust for money, both producers pledged allegiance to Hitler and wore swastikas to get the rights to the play they wanted to perform.

Yet, the performance was well done. The lead actors were great, the supporting cast good. The props were good. The music was good. I am sure the director did a fine piece of work, and I don’t doubt his talent.

The director’s notes told us the show was a parody of Hitler, written by Mel Brooks to mock Hitler and gain closure after his grandparents died in Nazi concentration camps during World War II. Because I am reading “Bonhoeffer” by Eric Metaxas and seeing the price that Dietrich Bonhoeffer and many others like him paid for opposing Hitler, the director’s words about mocking Hitler seemed a little shallow to me. But then, I didn’t stay to see how it all played out. We left at intermission, saddened over what is being taught in the performing arts in Fort Wayne Community Schools.

And although the audience responded with hilarity, and the kids seemed absolutely sold on what they were performing, it spoke to me about why our tax dollars are now supporting religious and charter schools. Perhaps the public schools should consider that they are doing it to themselves.

Paula Ulrey