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Local School Faces National Protest Over Controversial Play


NORTHAMPTON, Mass (WGGB) — One local high school is coming under fire for scheduling a controversial play.

Next week, the Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter School in South Hadley will perform a version of The Greatest Story Ever Told, but their version of The Book of Genesis called — “The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told” — includes gay characters.

It’s got the attention of protesters across the country, who are hoping their words will lead to its cancellation.

“Far most it offends God, and I protest that you folks will even consider this play,” one of many protesters said in a voicemail left Tuesday at The Academy of Music, the play’s venue.

Over 4,000 emails also bombarded the PVPA and theater officials with the same message.

“Many of the emails that we received were scripted spam but some of them were rather concerning and hateful addressed towards anti-gay speech,” Debra J’Anthony, Executive Director of the Academy of Music, said.

In her 20 years of performance art, J’Anthony has never seen such a negative reaction to a play.  Still, students at PVPA were busy Thursday rehearsing.

Principal Scott Goldman said cancelling the show isn’t an option, saying in a statement:

“Allowing this to happen would very much go against the grain of our unique, artistic, and intellectually rigorous PVPA community, and the larger Pioneer Valley community.”

Organizers say they plan to have extra security here on hand during the performances, so that students can feel comfortable. 

Most of the hate mail has come from out-of-state.

J’Anthony says serious conversation, not security should be the primary concern. “This is an opportunity for dialogue and that this is what art is about,” she said. “It’s about creating a different perspective on a known story that can bring people together to have a discussion for that issue that might be controversial.”

Administrators say the play is in line with school ideals and is appropriate for high school and adult audiences. “The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told” opens March 15 at the Academy of Music in Northampton.

More information on the show can be found at this website.

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