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'Rent' Will Go On at THS

On Tuesday, THS Principal Marc Guarino issued his own letter, which is already drawing criticism.

"Rent" is back on track for Trumbull High School, but the proposed schedule is already creating an issue.

First Selectman Tim Herbst spoke on WICC Monday night. A letter from Principal Marc Guarino was issued about 4 p.m. Tuesday.

"The learning opportunities are essential. To plan for these, I will be working collaboratively with various groups," Guarino said in his letter.

He concluded, "I believe that this process can be accomplished during the 2013/2014 school year if the performance dates can be delayed to Wednesday, April 30, dress rehearsal, through Sunday, May 4."

Supporters who heard Herbst Monday night were pleased at first, but by Tuesday afternoon, Guarino's plan was already meeting with criticism from Jonathan Tropp, one parent of two THS thespians.

Tropp said on WICC Tuesday afternoon that he was "frustrated" with Guarino's proposed schedule. Between a planned trip to London, AP exams and the Annual "We the People" Competition, "the kids will be entirely consumed," he said.

He added that he did not feel the new schedule was deliberate. He hoped to have further talks with Herbst and school officials on the matter.

How It Began

At first, just before Thanksgiving, Guarino cancelled the production, citing numerous issues such as lack of  a school-wide "plan" for staging the show, which covers homosexuality, drug use and HIV/AIDS. He also said he was not consulted in the show's selection.

Herbst later suggested that the Trumbull Youth Association perform the show. And on Monday, the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam offered its stage.

Initial response to Herbst's Monday Night Announcement

"We were elated to hear this evening on the radio, directly from him, that he and Principal [Marc] Guarino are committed to bring RENT to the THS auditorium this academic year," they said Monday night.

"We are grateful that our voices and the voices of our children have been heard and for the support of our First Selectman," said the parents who wrote the letter. "We are willing to roll up our sleeves to work with the high school administration to accomplish this.

"This production had long been planned, and we are confident that it can be ready to go in March as scheduled so that our children, who have numerous heavily demanding curricular and extracurricular activities later in the year, including We the People, and spring athletics and music activities, not to mention AP exams in May and final exams in June, will be able to participate."  

"We look forward to a further positive announcement and to joining Mr. Herbst in the auditorium to celebrate Trumbull’s production of Rent, and we are hopeful to be able to join him as well in celebrating additional Connecticut High School Music Theater awards for Trumbull."

The letter was signed by "TRUMBULL PARENTS FOR RENT": Andrea Gottschall; Dan Gottschall; Gina Gallo; Tim Gallo; Lauren Tropp; Jonathan Tropp; John Blyberg; Virginia Ell; John Ell; Jackie Madwed; Jane Helfgott; and Annette Clift.
faith wollner December 10, 2013 at 04:06 PM
Well, I think the turning point on this was the Goodspeed Opera House coming forth to help out. Amazing is it not?
Fredda Takacs December 10, 2013 at 04:15 PM
I'm so impressed with the way this was handled. I'm delighted that the Patch was so instrumental in keeping the dialogue going, supporting the grass roots push of the students and their dream while allowing everyone to have their voice heard - this is the true story of Rent - treating each other with respect while allowing ourselves to be heard. Great work Trumbull! I can't wait to see the show!
Jon Greene December 10, 2013 at 04:27 PM
There still seems to be a big disconnect. AP exams begin on 5/5. I'm surprised that any high school principal would propose the preceding 5 days for such a time and effort intensive activity as the musical.
dave wilsoon December 10, 2013 at 05:31 PM
So he was shamed into changing his mind after he finished his tantrum. Will take years to win back his credibility, if ever, considering his cowardly missteps.
Martha Jankovic-Mark December 10, 2013 at 06:49 PM
The proposed dates for the show are not feasible because of conflicts with other activities. This appears to be a unilateral decision that is unacceptable.
Dan Luposki December 10, 2013 at 07:00 PM
Both you and Greene need to just use some common sense. The voters spoke and both of you finished last. This is a high school issue and needs to be settled there without political issues.
Jon Greene December 10, 2013 at 10:00 PM
Retired, I must have missed the Constitutional amendment that prevents candidates that don't win from expressing their opinions. Perhaps you can point it out to me. Furthermore, please point out where I made a political statement of any kind. You are the one that brought up politics. Why do you want to make it a political matter? Frankly, this isn't about politics. It is, as you said, a matter of common sense. However, you aren't using any. Failing to acknowledge the impact of the selected dates on the overall academic program is foolish. The AP exams are critical to a student's academic resume (essentially their final for a college level course). The period before, which is proposed for the show, is a critical prep and study period to cover eight month's worth of work There's a valid reason the musical is traditionally scheduled earlier in the term.
Tony December 10, 2013 at 10:59 PM
What are the 'controversial' and 'sensitive' issues? It's common knowledge that seniors are the fastest growing segment of society for HIV/aids. That's because they use Viagra, sleep around, catch stds/HIV then pass them along ~ all because they think they're "too smart" for it!
dave wilsoon December 11, 2013 at 12:44 AM
Me thinks the new guy has picked a time period knowing full well people will react negatively. Tell me why his "planning" can't get done now, instead of all this time wasted on pathetic posturing? Anyone with half a brain could have planned a whole broadway season in the last 3 wasted weeks. Smells funny to me
Tony December 11, 2013 at 09:41 AM
Trumbull for RENT FB page has more than an impressive 7,100 LIKES
Matthew Chase December 11, 2013 at 10:03 AM
I believe he doesn't want to come off as capitulating completley and is looking for a bit of give back from the Thespians. He's put himself in a tough spot, between the media coverage, the students, parents and even the First Selectman, he's underwater and having trouble getting any oxygen for his stance. Have to give credit to Tim on making his voice heard and leading the way towards the production taking place. The kinks will be worked out, the show will go on, and Trumbull should view it as a win.

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