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Radnor High parent blames principal for canceled musical

The parent of a Radnor High School senior whose class musical was canceled last week after one performance said the principal was to blame for not flagging raunchy humor in the show.

The parent of a Radnor High School senior whose class musical was canceled last week after one performance said the principal was to blame for not flagging raunchy humor in the show.

"This was not high-brow humor, to say the least; it was sophomoric and politically incorrect, but very much in keeping with past shows," Martin Bond, father of senior Anne Bond, wrote in an e-mail yesterday. "And the script was approved by the principal."

School district officials said in an Inquirer article published Saturday that all the offensive material on opening night was unscripted and ad-libbed by students. The senior musical, typically a spoof, is an annual tradition at the school.

This year's musical, written and performed by the seniors, was titled The Wedding Game. Bond said the script clearly called for "a tipsy Irish priest," "a guy in drag," and "a hillbilly-type woman with two children on rope leashes." Those were three of five bits deemed inappropriate by school officials that resulted in the show's cancellation.

The other two bits were "crotch-grabbing" during Michael Jackson-style dancing, and a band with a shirtless boy "who kept time by slapping his ample belly," Bond said.

All five were part of "four full run-throughs" of the show before opening night, Bond said. No one from the administration attended, so the material was not cut before the show went public, Bond said.

Principal Mark Schellenger did not respond to two calls seeking comment.

Bond said he was told by his daughter that the seniors met with Schellenger and Superintendent Linda E. Grobman yesterday at the school to receive an apology for the administration's handling of the matter.

"My daughter said that Schellenger did not admit fault, but said only that he was sorry for what happened. Grobman did not admit fault, either," Bond said.

Senior Ansley Sawyer, who attended the meeting, said Schellenger explained that he felt that, based on the information given him, the senior musical was not ready to be shown to the public.

"He apologized for any hardship that he may have caused for the students, and he stressed that the decision was his to make," Sawyer said. "He then said that he hoped that we would not let this one situation overshadow all of the good times over the past four years."

Sawyer said Grobman "then apologized to us, saying that she understood why we had all been offended by the recent article in The Inquirer, and that she too was sorry for any hard feelings."

Asked for comment on the apology, district communications director Lisa Williamson said, "There was a meeting today with the principal and the superintendent, prior to the graduation rehearsal. The students are eager to prepare for their graduation ceremonies." She would not elaborate.

Grobman and eight school board members did not return calls for comment.

Williamson had said Friday that the "references and gestures" were "ad-libbed" by students and came as a surprise to the administration. Bond denied that.

"Most of the supposedly inappropriate material was scripted, and all was clear to see in the rehearsals. None of the offending references and gestures were ad-libbed," Bond said.

"In fact, the show was no more inappropriate than in past years, and the show was closely supervised by a Radnor teacher."

That adviser, Nancy Holshue, a part-time staff member who served as director, did not respond to a call Friday to her cell phone. Yesterday, the cell phone was "temporarily disconnected."