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School picks OK! over Baghdad for musical

Pennsylvania school kids will sing about the Sooner state instead of Baghdad after complaints prompted school officials to cancel plans to put on “Kismet,” a musical about a Muslim poet.

Instead, students at Richland High School in Johnstown, Pa., will sing and act in Rogers and Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma!” reports David Hurst in the Johnstown Tribune-Democrat newspaper. 

Kismet is “a classic Tony Award-winning musical about a poor, wily street poet,” he notes, but it is also “set on Baghdad’s Muslim streets. And complaints about its content from local community members have prompted those who oversee Richland’s Performing Arts program to pull it from their 2012 schedule.


District officials called the timing for Kismet “poor” on the heels of 9/11’s 10th anniversary – and not worth putting students through potential controversy or criticism.

“There were some concerns,” Superintendent Thomas Fleming Jr. told Hurst.

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