MIDDLEFIELD, OHIO (WJW) – Just days after FOX 8 reported on an abruptly canceled high school musical, the student cast and crew received some star-powered support from the Broadway cast.
“I want you to know that you all are enough,” said actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson. “Whoever you are is enough and I’m heartbroken for you.”
Ferguson of Modern Family starred in the Broadway production of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.” In a video posted to social media, he offered his support to the students.
The PG-13 production of the play was abruptly canceled by the Cardinal Local School board in January. In a statement issued earlier this week, the district superintendent Jack Cunningham said, “Its dialogue and song lyrics contain vulgarity and are therefore not suitable for our pre-teen and teenage students in an educational setting.”
The musical features a same-sex couple. The district stated anyone suggesting discrimination is “mistaken” and “the district wants its student productions to be something that community members of all ages may enjoy without adult supervision.”
“The message that this sends to them that that is not family appropriate, or family friendly is toxic, harmful and abusive,” said Ferguson.
Mandi Matchinga, the assistant director of the high school production of the musical, said her jaw dropped upon learning of the support from Ferguson and the crew.
“The original music director reached out to us saying the cast, the original Broadway cast including Jesse Tyler Ferguson wanted to schedule a time to Zoom with our cast to encourage them, provide their support.”
There was a recent meeting with the school district administration and at least one member of the high school production about the musical Wednesday. Matchinga, who was not present at the meeting, said the focus remained on picking a new musical to perform. The superintendent and members of the school board did not respond to requests for comment Thursday.
Matchinga said it’s too late in the school year for a new production to get licensed and prepared for a March premiere.
“The writers of the script reached out to us, and they said if the school board’s willing to give us a list of things they find not appropriate in the script they, the original writers, will work on an adaptation for our school,” said Matchinga.
The issue is expected to be addressed at the upcoming school board meeting.
“Okay the balls in your court now school board,” said Matchinga. “Are we going to talk about this, or aren’t we?”
The operators of the Geauga Theater said they have also helped the cast and crew.
Matchinga said the students were excited to learn of all the additional support.