Fifteen minutes for the Alma Mater

My old high school was mentioned by Jay Leno in his opening monologue recently. On Friday, 30 April, he used the following joke.

Angry parents protested outside the Queen of Peace High School in North Arlington, N.J. yesterday because they were upset that the spring musical at the school this year is Cabaret. It's a play that deals with issues of homosexuality. Well, thank God they're picketing. The last thing you want is kids in the theater department being exposed to is anything gay.

Naturally, my first thought had nothing to do with the topic at hand. There's still a bizarre little thrill associated with having some obscure part of your life exposed to millions of people on television. I've been seeing Pizzaland for five years in the opening credits of The Sopranos, and it's still pretty cool, since I spent an inordinate amount of my teen years eating there. I especially liked the theatre angle of the QP story, since virtually all of my good memories of high school involved the drama club in some way.

Eventually, though, I got past the Warholian nature of the Tonight Show reference, and started thinking about the reality behind it. Parents protesting a high school show? Cabaret? In what century do these parents live, and what can we do to get them to join us here in the 21st?

After a little fact-checking, I discovered that the protests were nothing more than a few small-minded people, and that the attendant publicity made for packed houses. The actors took the protests in stride, and had a good show. More power to them.

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