EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

April 10, 2014

Timberlane students will perform 'Sweeney Todd'

Administration reverses earlier decision

PLAISTOW — The show will go on.

Superintendent Earl Metzler announced late yesterday afternoon that Timberlane Regional High School students will be allowed to perform “Sweeney Todd” next spring after the production had been put on hold because of its controversial content.

Metzler said he and Timberlane High School principal Don Woodworth met with members of the Timberlane Players yesterday at about 4 p.m. to announce the administration’s decision.

But Metzler said the decision to continue with the show next spring was only made after the students agreed to certain criteria earlier in the day.

The criteria includes that students perform a “high school-appropriate” version of the play, he said.

“I have reviewed and approved ‘Sweeney Todd’ production adaptations submitted by the drama department that addresses my concerns as well as the concerns raised by others,” Metzler said in a prepared statement.

The administration also required that an additional performance be held in December that is appropriate for all ages, Metzler said.

“The entire community will have a show they can go to,” Metzler said. “Our belief is our rendition of ‘Sweeney Todd’ will surpass any of our previous productions. ... It was never about censorship.”

Metzler also said he and administrators were impressed by the maturity shown by students at a public forum April 3 at which more than 40 people asked that they be allowed to perform the show. More than 120 people attended the forum.

“They acted in a polite, respectful manner to make their point,” he said.

The administration had decided “Sweeney Todd” wasn’t appropriate for young children and canceled the production, angering many parents and students.

‘‘Sweeney Todd” is the story of a barber who is exiled to Australia on trumped-up charges by a judge who lusts after his wife.

Driven mad by the injustice, when he returns to England and reopens his barbershop, he slits the throats of his customers. His landlady then bakes them into pies and sells them.

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