Cal Area's 'Zombie' play eliminating suicide from script
Following public backlash over a spring musical based on a teen suicide, California Area High School administrators have decided its drama club will use an alternate script.
The change to the production of “Zombie Prom” occurred after some district parents said it was insensitive to the family of a freshman at the school who committed suicide nearly two years ago.
The new version does not reference suicide.
Superintendent Brian Jackson confirmed the change was imminent Monday evening.
The musical is scheduled to run Feb. 28 to March 2.
Jackson said he plans to meet Tuesday with high school Principal Leigh Ann Folmar and drama club director Claudia Bennett.
Bennett and Folmar met with drama club members Saturday to discuss changes, Jackson said.
“I think, without a doubt, it's the best alternative,” Jackson said. “One of the parameters, obviously, is anything having to do with suicide would be out. … (The kids) didn't give us a lot of negative feedback.
“I think the kids and everyone involved understands.”
Felicity Macosta, a 14-year-old varsity cheerleader and basketball and volleyball player, committed suicide April 2, 2011.
Her mother, Lara, took exception to the play's content after parents notified her through phone calls and text messages.
Macosta said the district previously thwarted attempts to honor her daughter's memory because of a policy designed to discourage public discussion of suicide.
The efforts involved establishment of a scholarship in Felicity Macosta's name and allowing students to wear bracelets bearing the girl's initials, Lara Macosta has said.
Jackson said Monday the district has no written policy regarding the matter.
Macosta previously stated she didn't want the production to be canceled or to punish student actors, adding she and family members received negative emails after the issue gained media attention last week.
Macosta on Monday said she was pleased to hear of the impending script change.
“We're happy they took that into consideration, and I guess it's better than no change at all,” she said. “It's just a touchy situation, anyway. I didn't want to start this fight. I just asked a question. We are pleased they addressed the issue.”
In the original off-Broadway version of “Zombie Prom,” the lead character – Jonny Warner – breaks up with his girlfriend and then commits suicide by hurling himself into a nuclear power plant's cooling tower.
In the alternate script – “Zombie Prom, Atomic Version” – Jonny becomes a zombie after accidently coming in contact with nuclear waste while riding his bicycle. The school website acknowledged the change Monday.
Jackson said four of the show's musical numbers might have to be adapted. He added the new script has eliminated some of the more “racy” elements of the original version.
“A lot of things haven't been completely turned over,” Jackson said. “I think it's a positive thing. ... A lot of the more adult-oriented content was removed.”
Most importantly, Jackson said, Folmar and Bennett combed the new script line-by-line eliminating anything alluding to suicide.
“You're never going to make everyone happy; I just want to make sure everybody is comfortable, and I want to talk to the family. But I think that this is the best alternative,” Jackson said.
“Due to the sensitive nature of what happened, it was the only way to try and alleviate some of that.
“I think this whole issue was a learning experience for everyone involved.”
Rick Bruni Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 724-684-2635.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Artistic ‘Vision’ pays off for Charleroi grad
- Assault ends North Belle Vernon man’s new-found freedom
- Monongahela Area Historical Society gears up for annual Ghostwalk
- North Belle Vernon woman charged with DUI, endangerment
- Mon Valley Progress Council, MIDA might consolidate
- Monessen man accused of assaulting infant boy
- Mon Valley paranormal group unlocking haunted mysteries
- Belle Vernon Area School District in good financial shape
- Mon Valley school leaders react to PSSA scores
- State Rep. Daley insists some Dems would vote for GOP budget
- MIDA, Progress Council intertwined before talks of possible merger