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'Rent' gets OK for O.C. high school performance

February 25, 2009 |  4:55 pm

At Corona del Mar High School, the show will go on.

After a flap that raised the ire of the gay community and ruffled feathers on the Newport Beach campus, drama students will be allowed to stage a production of "Rent," a musical about bohemians living in New York City.

"I never had a problem with the play selected by Mr. Martin," said Corona del Mar High School Principal Fal Asrani, in a statement released by the school district. "The selection of our drama productions is his call. I just requested the opportunity to review the script before it was final. [The school ]administration received parent concerns from a previous play and I wanted to be able to ensure my commitment to the concerned parents as well as show my support of the student production without any reservation.”

What transpired in the original meeting between drama teacher Ron Martin and Asrani is a matter of dispute between the two.

Martin said Asrani questioned the portrayal of homosexuality and prostitution in the play and requested a copy of the script. According to Martin, when he said he could not provide a script in time for her review and to obtain clearance by the licensing company, Asrani opted to cancel the show.

Asrani and the Newport-Mesa Unified School District confirm that Asrani did ask for a script to review, a common practice, and that Martin could not provide one, but say -- with corroboration from other school officials -- that the decision to shut down the show was Martin's.

Drama students and alumni spoke out against the show's cancellation, which some labeled as intolerance, as the controversy filtered onto blogs.

Last week, Martin requested a rush copy of the toned-down school edition of "Rent," which he gave Asrani on Monday. Martin could not be immediately reached for comment.

-- Susannah Rosenblatt