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Stroudsburg High School’s Musical “The Prom” divides the community

Stroudsburg+High+School+proudly+advertises+their+musical+this+year%2C+The+Prom.
Luka Konklin
Stroudsburg High School proudly advertises their musical this year, “The Prom.”

When Stroudsburg High School announced the musical would be “The Prom,” the student body and local community were thrown into chaos.

“The Prom” tells the story of Emma, a high school student from a fictional place known as Edgewater, Indiana, who sparks controversy when she announces that she wants to take her girlfriend to prom. The Parent Teacher Association (PTA) and community cancel the prom in retaliation. Four washed-up Broadway stars, needing publicity, hear about this bigotry and make it their mission to help Emma.

While the show tells a story of unity and acceptance, it can divide communities.

The principal roles in “The Prom” take a picture to advertise the musical. (Delaney Burke)

Although it was a challenge to have the show approved, due to the possible community pushback, Stroudsburg High School’s Principal, Mr. Jeffrey Sodl, pushed for the show earlier in the school year. 

While this show may seem different from previous years’ musicals, Sodl believes the message of the show is no different than previous musicals Stroudsburg High School has put on, such as “Shrek” or “Beauty and the Beast.”

 

“It is about accepting and loving people for who they are,” said Sodl.

Sodl also thinks that performing newly released shows, like “The Prom,” is important and he is glad to be one of the first schools to do it.

He stated that Stroudsburg has always been a district that takes the lead and taking initiative is just what our schools do.

However, not all Stroudsburg students view this as a good choice for a musical.

The principal actors in “The Prom” prepare for opening night. (Delaney Burke)

When he first heard about Stroudsburg’s production of “The Prom,” William Tonnies, 11, was displeased. 

“My initial feeling was an overwhelming disappointment. From my experience doing the sound for ‘Beauty and the Beast’ last year, I was excited about what the music program was capable of,” said Tonnies. “But, when I discovered the musical was, ‘The Prom,’ I felt differently.”

He stated that the musical goes against his religious beliefs, saying the story pushes the idea that homosexuality should be encouraged and supported.

Although he said he loves everyone because of his Christianity, Tonnies expresses that “The Prom” motivates people to venture down a path of sin. 

Tonnies also believes that the musical does not correctly show the conservative point of view – making conservatism seem like the “bad guy” of the story instead of keeping an open mind to all political views.

I think it’s really important for our students to be represented and for the people in the audience to see that they’re just like everybody else, leading them to acceptance.“

— Ms. Lisa Rogers

He is not alone in these ideas. Throughout the music program, students have reacted poorly to “The Prom.”

During auditions, fewer students showed up compared to previous years, and ticket sales have been slower than those for “Beauty and the Beast” last year.

Ms. Billye Kubiak, a Stroudsburg High School teacher, and Director/Choreographer for the musical, is certain that this is nothing out of the ordinary.

 

She believes that most shows just cannot compare to the popularity of a classic musical, like “Beauty and the Beast.”

Kubiak spoke about the show’s importance, stating, “Musicals aren’t just about the dialogue, singing, and dancing. This musical has a story that should be and needs to be told.”

Stroudsburg High School’s ticket box for the upcoming musical, “The Prom.” (Delaney Burke)

Others in the community see this play as a progressive way of creating visibility for LGBTQ+ students.

Benjamin Domanski, 12, stated, “The backlash the musical is receiving is insane. We are a public school and we are allowed to have diverse opinions.”

He believes that people need to adjust their traditional views because it is now 2024 and if anyone still believes that homosexuality is a sin, they need a severe reality check and a dose of acceptance for their neighbors.

Domanski also expressed, “This pushback is ironic because other schools around us are putting on ‘Sweeney Todd’ and ‘Chicago.’ These are shows about literal cannibalism and prostitutes, and gay people kissing is the one being disparaged. It just shows how biased and bigoted these people are.”

No matter how you view this show, Stroudsburg has always prioritized supporting local students in the arts. Tickets can be found in the main office of Stroudsburg High School from 8 am-1:30 pm or at the door of the shows on April 12, 13, and 14, 2024, and cost $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, and $8 for students.

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  • C

    ChaseApr 12, 2024 at 2:14 PM

    This is crazy, yet another banger Delaney. Look forward to seeing “The Prom”

    Reply
  • H

    HollyApr 11, 2024 at 8:33 AM

    Kudos to the principal!

    Reply
  • D

    Doona G.Apr 10, 2024 at 6:57 PM

    Pretty soon this liberal mindset will have drag queens reading to the younger kids! Just because it’s 2024 doesn’t mean it’s ok to push an unhealthy agenda on kids in an educational facility

    Reply