YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The casting call for a school play has upset one local mom. She wanted to know why some roles in the iconic production “Hairspray” were designated for white students and didn’t like the answers she got from Valley Christian School.
Late Wednesday, the school decided to cancel the play. But before that, Danyel Taylor, the mother of Xaniya Taylor, a sophomore at Valley Christian School, explains her frustrations after talking to school administrators about the casting list for the play.
“I said to them, respectfully, you will never know what it’s like to be a minority, but you are in charge of several minorities’ lives. I am asking you to see this from their perspective,” Taylor said. “Right now, skill and ability doesn’t matter only the color of their skin because they can’t even try out. It says in the script this role must be played by a white performer..”
Taylor says she went to the school Tuesday morning to speak with the principal about the race-specific casting list. At first, she thought it could be an oversight.
“She said it was required to carry out the message of the play,” Taylor said.
Valley Christian President Mike Pecchia said that “Hairspray” had been performed at the school in the past.
“We did “Hairspray” around 10 years ago in the past and it was a great play. It was a well received message amongst our student body and there was no issue,” he said.
Pecchia said that the message of Hairspray is about racial reconciliation. He said that bringing people together, regardless of race, is something they stand for at Valley Christian. He feels their intention is misunderstood.
“It is unfortunate that maybe some communication went out that could be seen as offensive to people, and that’s not something we ever want to do,’ Pecchia said.
When asked about the descriptive casting list, Pecchia said casting is important.
“Casting is important with the integrity of the play, so this play might be difficult,” he said.
Taylor showed us a new casting list for “Hairspray” Wednesday afternoon, which had race removed. But later the show was canceled.
Pecchia issued a statement when asked about the change:
“Hairspray” has a redeeming message of racial justice and intergration historically situated in the context of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. However, we now recognize that roles are racially typecast, therefore, we will choose a different musical to ensure our mission and values are best reflected in everyting we do.Mike Pecchia, President of Valley Christian School
A new play will be performed but as of yet a title has not been announced.