Parent of ‘Hairspray’ performer calls Vindy review ‘amateurish’

Parent of ‘Hairspray’ performer calls Vindy review ‘amateurish’

My 12 year-old daughter, along with dozens of other people young and old, earned a role in the chorus of the Salem Community Theater’s production of “Hairspray.” I read David Munnell’s review of this production and found it to be little more than accusations of nepotism and amateurism, with almost enough praise to still appear subjective.

Mr. Munnell, you noted the technical difficulties in the production but offer nothing more constructive than “a monkey could do better.” A monkey?

Who is being amateurish, Mr. Munnell? I teach my children that a constructive argument is to intelligence as an insult is to ignorance. Mr. Munnell, you only offer insult — not critique. You question the professionalism of the production team, yet seem to exempt your own.

You offer well-deserved praise to several performers; however your claim of “blatant nepotism” implies that others did not earn their roles because they are the children of director John Zamarelli. Please remember that accusing a parent of nepotism also insults the child. Unless you have a front-row seat to Mr. Zamarelli’s conscience, your accusation is nothing more than an assumption and a projection that you were not invited to make.

I do not personally know the Zamarelli family but as a parent of a cast member, I would challenge you to find actors more suited, more professional, and better prepared for these roles than Morgan and Parker Zamarelli. Please do not negate the accomplishments of these young people because you awarded yourself the right to judge their father’s intent.

As I read your review, I couldn’t help remembering the high school sports parents that refused to accept the coach’s son as quarterback, pitcher, or goalie. Mr. Munnell, I hope you realize that young people are capable of great things on their own and when they are lucky enough to have parents with the commitment to be involved and supportive, they can accomplish even more. Sometimes those parents become coaches and directors; sometimes they offer support in the background. It is usually the other parents that see only nepotism.

Sean Sutton, Salem

Salem ‘Hairspray’ review hurts authority of fine music teacher

I am writing to give an addi- tional perspective on the recently published review of the production of “Hairspray” at Salem Community Theater. I am in no way involved in the production.

My connection to it is that I am a student at West Branch High School and am very involved in the theater department there as well as having performed on the Salem Community Theater stage before.

I understand that there were weaker spots and stronger parts; however I do not think that this quality production deserved the review it was given. Nevertheless, I understand that the critic is allowed to have his own personal opinion of the show. What has upset me is the unprofessional and demeaning word choices and overall tone of the review.

One reason why I was very upset by the article is that the director, John Zamarelli, is an educator at West Branch High School. Being in the high school, I see how hard it is for teachers to gain the respect that they deserve from their students. Mr. Zamarelli has achieved this respect from all of his students by going above and beyond his duties as a choir teacher.

The “Hairspray” review jeopardizes his authority over his classroom. By making accusations and publishing them to the public, students can see this and carry it over to their school life. I only hope that West Branch’s choir students are more mature than that and can understand that the article was a false portrait of their talented teacher as well as the rest of the staff involved in the production. (I’m not sure if you are aware of this, but not only is Mr. Zamarelli an educator at West Branch, I have also had two other cast members as teachers before, so there are even more victims than just him.)

I also am appalled by the comments that were made towards some of the youth involved in “Hairspray.” Community theater is a learning experience; therefore many younger kids involve themselves in the productions to improve as a performer. This article has damaged the confidence of those kids.

Also, referring to the stage hands as “monkeys” is beyond inappropriate and unprofessional. Some of those stage hands are only 16 years old and learning about the world of theater. There could have been nicer phrases to describe their supposedly “poor” work than the demeaning words used in the article.

The article published was unprofessional, inappropriate and borderline bullying.

Allison Harris, West Branch

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Vindicator received several other letters with similar criticisms about the “Hairspray” review published Aug. 4 on Page A10.

Exclude prison populations when redistricting city wards

For the first time in 30 years, Youngstown is finally working on redrawing the city-council ward boundaries to comply with the U.S. Supreme Court’s mandate of “one person, one vote.” (“Proposed changes would make Youngstown wards’ population more balanced,” Aug. 1, 2013).

One argument is which member of city council will get the biggest prison in his or her district.

But that’s the wrong question to ask.

The problem is that the Census Bureau tabulates incarcerated people at prison locations, not in their home communities, even though incarcerated people can’t vote and remain legal residents of their home addresses.

When political districts are based on this Census Bureau data, people who live near big prisons get an unfair political boost and everyone else’s votes are diluted.

Fortunately, there’s a simple solution used by more than 200 local governments around the country, including Lima, Ohio: For purposes of city redistricting, exclude the prison populations. This way, the voters who live near the biggest prison won’t have more influence on city council than every other voter in Youngstown.

If the goal is to draw fair and equal wards, the city councilors should draw their new lines on actual Youngstown residents, not on flawed Census Bureau data.

Leah Sakala , Easthampton, Mass.

The letter writer is a policy analyst for the Prison Policy Initiative.

Show citizenship on driver’s license

I read your editorial of Aug. 6 about online voter registration. Here is my idea, and it is based on being a U.S. citizen to vote, which is in the Constitution.

I would recommend that everyone be required to get a new driver’s license or state ID card before the next election. To get the new card at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles you would have to prove your citizenship and on the new card would be a line that said “Citizen of” where you would show the country a person is a citizen of.

A copy of the new ID or driver’s license would be given to your employer to show that you are here legally. The bureau would be able to check your Social Security number or green card number. At this time too, you would re-register to vote. On election day, everyone would show their photo ID when voting.

I would also suggest that those who say they were brought here illegally at an early age be allowed to go to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles where an employee of the Department of Immigration would be. They could show their school records and be given a green card and number to be able to work here legally. This would clear away a lot of the illegal workers.

Patricia Schrom, Columbiana