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Minn. school the first in Midwest to perform 'Rent'

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After Red Wing High School rejected the student's plan to perform 'Rent' the musical for their school performance, a Hopkins charter school will soon take the spot as the first to perform the toned-down version in the Midwest.

The Main Street School of Performing Arts in Hopkins will perform the Tony Award-winning show next month at the Southern Theatre in Minneapolis. Despite removing several racy lines and situations from the play, the performance has come under fire across the country as some schools object to some of the main themes of the script.

Rent, set in the 1990s, focuses on a group of bohemians who address many controversial issues including drug use, homosexuality and AIDs.

The Main Street School has the rights to "Rent: School Edition," which is an edited version of the script and score, and is meant for high school audiences. The main themes are still intact, but includes changes in language so it's more "age appropriate". As if high school theater geeks haven't seen the movie by now.

Schools across the country have been dealing with decisions to allow the play to go on, but several in the last year have decided to continue with the performance. A school in Philadelphia as well as a New Jersey school allowed the musical to go forward despite concerns raised by community members and parents.

MSSPA Principal Karen Charles said in a statement that the school is looking forward to the production.

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"Our students have embraced the opportunity to explore the play's content and characters' strengths and weaknesses. We recognize the mature nature of this production, and see it as a story of community, tolerance, caring, and artistic expression. The storyline encourages accepting people for who they are without judgment, and recognizes all choices have consequences--good or bad. These are important lessons for us all, and it is a testament to our dedicated and talented teens that they were willing and excited to take on a production of this magnitude."

Production details:

Performances will be held at the Southern Theatre, 1420 Washington Avenue South Thursdays: February 19 / 26 at 7:30pm

Friday-Saturday: February 20-21 / 27-28 at 8:00pm

Tickets: $21.50 Students / $26.50 Adults

Contact Southern Theater 612-340-1725 / www.southerntheater.org

SPECIAL MINNESOTA AIDS PROJECT BENEFIT / OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

Wednesday, February 25 at 7:30pm

All proceeds from this production to benefit Minnesota AIDS Project

Tickets: $20 for all seats.

Reservations / information contact: 952-224-1356

**There will be "Talk Back" discussions at the conclusion of the performances on February 19th and 28th with Minnesota AIDS Project representatives.