Vocal minority trying to derail Lake City Playhouse's "Rent" production

Handful of community members upset over "immoral behavior" in play

Published On: Dec 14 2011 06:42:49 AM PST   Updated On: Dec 14 2011 06:55:32 AM PST

Next month "Rent" is opening at the Lake City Playhouse in Coeur d'Alene, but some people think the plug should be pulled because of what they call immoral behavior in the musical.

Rent has won a Pulitzer, a Tony and was made into a popular motion picture. According to Lake City Playhouse artistic director George Green, Rent is about "artists trying to make it in the world through their struggles, through their addictions, through their pain, through their sickness and overcome."

The musical takes place under the shadow of HIV/AIDS, and there are several characters that are homosexual, and not everyone in the community is OK with the play being performed in Coeur d'Alene.

Arcadia Nicklay from Hayden is trying to raise her family in a wholesome environment. She thinks the right thing to do is pull the production.

"It's not just because there are gays and lesbian involved. It's because they are fornicating gays and lesbians," Nicklay said, adding that their behavior is immoral.

"There are still absolute truths. We are still, I hope, a society that says this is right and this is wrong," she said.

Tom Bassler, also of Hayden, thinks this is a free speech issue. He doesn't see any problem with the play running and said if someone doesn't like the content just don't go see the play.

"Just like TV if you don't like the program don't watch it," Bassler said.

But Nicklay believes even having Rent performed at the Lake City Playhouse contaminates the community and she's not alone in her feelings. The playhouse has heard from several people, with a majority supporting the play but some saying they don't appreciate it at all.

"What we put on stage we are not celebrating, we are not promoting the content that's on the stage. We are simply presenting content that is out in our world today. We leave it for the patron to decide," Green said.

If the role of the arts to spur discussion, maybe change a person's perspective, or strengthen existing opinions, it would seem that the Lake City Playhouse's production of Rent has already done just that.

"Rent will go on just like any other play has gone on," Green said.