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The Student News Site of Fremont High School

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  • The Phoenix would like to thank the Assistance League of Los Altos for their valuable donation to keep our newspaper running. With their assistance, we will be able to print quality issues that reflect the interests of Fremont High School and the wider community.
The Student News Site of Fremont High School

The Phoenix

Curtains close: “Like You Like It” cancelled

Graphic+by+Shraddha+Sriram
Graphic by Shraddha Sriram

Traditionally, FHS has hosted a school musical in the spring of every school year—with the exception of the 2019-20 year due to COVID-19—which is eagerly anticipated by the school community. 

This annual musical has consistently provided a platform for FHS students to showcase their talents and passion for the performing arts, especially for students who cannot participate in the shows hosted as a part of the theater classes. Each year, theater students and the wider community anticipate the announcement and production of the musical. However, this year, the performing arts department has canceled the scheduled production, “Like You Like It,” following student criticism over its content.

“Like You Like It,” originally scheduled in the spring of 2024, is an ‘80s Shakespeare adaptation musical. The musical follows a female student who disguises herself as a male student in order to figure out who her love interest wants to go to the dance with. 

FHS senior and Thespian Cabinet member Wren Iswandhi said that students were uncomfortable with going forward with the production of this musical, as the content included sexist jokes, sexual harassment and a cross-dressing plot point that perpetuated harmful stereotypes about transgender people. 

“It’s important that [the musical was canceled], because if we put on this production, it means that we are saying that these types of jokes and behaviors are okay,” Iswandhi said. “These are jokes that aren’t even funny to be laughed at, so they shouldn’t be ones that we put on stage.”

In the days after the musical choice was made public, concerns started to arise. The controversy surrounding “Like You Like It” from the student body made it apparent to the Performing Arts Department that they would not be able to put it on this year.

“We’ve done really interesting and well known musicals in the past, and this one was not so well known,” senior Sanika Bidarkar said. “But I don’t think that that was really the issue. The issue was that the topics that were discussed in the musical really hurt a lot of people in the theater community and it hurt a lot of my friends.” 

“People, especially people who aren’t from this generation, don’t tend to look out for this sort of thing,” Iswandhi said. “They saw it as funny jokes, but they weren’t looking at it through the perspective of trans students and students who have experience with sexual harassment.”

Many students involved with past productions at FHS shared a similar sentiment. In the past, FHS has held advisories and assemblies aimed to educate students on the topic of prejudicial bias based on a multitude of diverse characteristics, including those on gender identity.

“At Fremont specifically, we’ve done so much work to combat hate against the LGBTQIA+ community because it’s so prominent here, especially towards the trans community,” FHS senior Ella Hassner said. “This type of thing would set us back a lot, it’s not an okay thing to be portrayed at school, to impressionable students.” 

In response to the students’ growing concerns, the musical was ultimately canceled by the performing arts faculty. Selecting a musical is a lengthy process, FHS Principal Bryan Emmert said. The teachers organizing the production must take into account the proper number of roles, the skill level needed and the cost to get the rights to the musical, among many other factors. During the selection process for this year’s musical—even before students’ discontent with the script—the teachers were contemplating whether to produce the musical at all.

“We looked into the other schools in the district and found that none of their schools are doing musicals anymore, because they just don’t have the capacity or the bandwidth to do it, and to do it well,” Emmert said. “I had a couple conversations with Mr. Kelly, Mr. Howard and Ms. Misfeldt about the musical and we decided to push through and continue to do it.”

Although a musical will not be produced this season by the FHS performing arts department, faculty are working to provide students with other musical theater opportunities in the community to make up for the lack of an on-campus musical experience, FHS theater teacher Tanya Misfeldt said in a written statement to The Phoenix. A discussion is in the works for the Sunnyvale Community Players’s musical, “Mary Poppins, Jr.” to host their auditions on the FHS campus later this fall. Theater staff are also advertising audition opportunities at GIFT, a nonprofit organization bringing theater to individuals who may be unable to experience a show in a theater setting, and at Peninsula Youth Theatre, Misfeldt said in the statement. 

The cancellation of this year’s musical has left much of the FHS student body disappointed and saddened, as this was a cherished tradition, especially among those who have previously participated in past musicals. Students interested in participating did not anticipate that there would be no FHS-held musical this year. 

“The musical is a Fremont experience,” Hassner said. “It is connecting students in Fremont with the school and having them work in our own Shannon Theater. We don’t want to do this stuff outside of school.”

Many seniors in particular are disappointed in the cancellation of the musical, Iswandhi said. With no musical this year, seniors graduating in 2024 will have last year’s musical, “The Wizard of Oz,” as their last musical with classmates in FHS. However, they do not regret opposing the showing of “Like You Like It,” Iswandhi said.

“I’m glad that there isn’t a show that invalidates my identity being put on stage,” Iswandhi said. “I’m very disappointed that there won’t be a senior musical, but I would rather have no musical than to have ‘Like You Like It’ as the musical.”

Students were notified of the cancellation of the musical in choir, band and theater classes in early September by the respective teachers; although, there was no formal public announcement.  

“That’s the thing that made me the most mad, our opinions as the students are not even taken into consideration,” Hassner said. “We’re never asked what type of musical we want to do.”

“My hope is that in the future, shows are examined thoroughly and that they try to think about the perspective [of students]. I know that these shows are only chosen by that group of adults, and they don’t ask any of the students because they want it to be a surprise,” Iswandhi said. “I would love it if there were more students involved in the process to ensure that this wouldn’t happen again.”

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About the Contributors
Sophie Wang, Editor-in-Chief
Sophie is a senior and is excited to is excited to return for her fourth year on The Phoenix's staff as Editor-in-Chief. Outside of the paper, Sophie is a dedicated member of French club and an avid reader of trashy romance novels. You can often find her creating more unnecessary Spotify playlists, binging dramas at midnight, or wasting her money online shopping.
Shraddha Sriram, Design Editor
Shraddha Sriram is a senior and Design Editor. In her free time, she enjoys listening to artists such as Kendrick Lamar and Taylor Swift as well as getting Chipotle. She is also a part of the school's robotics organization and softball team.

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