Trinity Prep School play seems to benefit from free publicity after bishop's nix.
Tanya Caldwell Sentinel Staff Writer September 8, 2007 The thespians of Trinity Preparatory School opened their controversial show Friday night to a full house without the Episcopalian bishop's blessings.T hey opened their theatrical season before hundreds at the Orlando Repertory Theatre, playfully prancing around in blond wigs and patent leather heels.Some were girls. Some were boys in drag. And for the Episcopal bishop, that was the problem.The high schoolers hoped to perform La Cage aux Folles, a musical comedy that features a gay couple and drag queens, on their Christian campus last week.But Bishop John Howe, head of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida, asked the school's headmaster to cancel the on-campus performance on Aug. 31, just hours before the show was to debut. Howe thought the PG-13 show was inappropriate for the school near Winter Park.But attendees thought it was inappropriate for the bishop to cancel the students' show."It was unfortunate that it just got canceled at the last minute. That was an uncalled for reaction," said Doug Truelsen, who attended the opening night Friday."They just got the rug whipped right out from under them," said Darby Ballard, an attendee who graduated from Trinity in 1990. "When I went to school we didn't have those guidelines. We had a different administration that was more accepting." The students took the show to Orlando Repertory Theatre after a week of debate about whether the bishop overstepped his bounds or held his moral ground. At least three other theaters also opened their doors to the group.At least 300 parents, peers and neighbors arrived for the opening night, laughing at the jokes, smiling during the solos and whistling as grinning drag queens danced across the stage. The Broadway musical has won several awards and was later tuned into an American movie called The Birdcage, which starred Robin Williams and Nathan Lane. La Cage features a gay couple in which one partner runs a French nightclub and the other performs there as a drag queen. The couple has been together for 20 years but make changes when their son bring home his fiancee and her conservative parents. Janine Papin, Trinity Prep's fine-arts department chairwoman, said earlier that she wanted do the show to "push the limits." She said the play is about family and tolerance, not about homosexuality. Fred Trabold, a 32-year-old attorney who graduated from Trinity in 1993, agreed with the bishop's decision."The issue is whether the Trinity Preparatory School, which is an Episcopalian school, should honor the bishop of the Episcopalian church," Trabold said. "It's not a matter of homophobia. I saw the movie The Birdcage and it was hilarious." Howe had no further comment Friday night two hours before curtain."I really have said all I want to about it," he said. Some attendees said the show taught moral values that others might enjoy."I think that the play has a lot of values to teach. It's about acceptance. It's about love. It's about tolerance," Truelsen said. "Those are great values to teach anyone." Tanya Caldwell can be reached at email@example.com or 352-742-5928. Copyright © 2007, Orlando Sentinel