Some in Albuquerque assume that Popejoy Hall only brings in shows that are family friendly. Yes, we brought in The Lion King and Mary Poppins, but we’ve also had Rock of Ages and The Full Monty on our stage. Some of the dance companies we present perform pieces partially or fully nude.
Even music performed at Popejoy can be a problem, when you dig into it. Do you really want to tell your children what "The Rites of Spring" are, or translate "Carmina Burana" for them?
Sometimes it’s a cultural issue. When we present African ensembles in their native dress, the women might well perform with bared breasts. Must we request that they Americanize (bowdlerize?) their performance simply because we can’t accept their culture as they live it?
Our current show, Jersey Boys, has what the producers call “authentic ‘profane Jersey language.’” We’ve had a significant number of people complain to us that the language was too much. A few curse words might have been okay, they say, but the repeated use of profanity was beyond the pale. (Yet more than 98% of the people we’ve surveyed to date would recommend it to a friend.)
We’ve had the producers' warning in place since we started selling tickets to the show. It hasn’t been everywhere — it’s not in our TV ads, for example — but it is on the UNM Tickets website where more than half of our patrons buy tickets. It’s on our website where we direct people to go for more information.
Yet people miss it. Or figure that authentic profane Jersey language might be tamer than it is in the show. Or assume that everything at Popejoy is family friendly.
The warning from Jersey Boys includes a recommendation for those 12 and up. When we have the choice, we prefer not to make age recommendations for content issues. We’d rather give you the information you need to determine whether a show is appropriate for your family members. If the information we provide isn’t sufficient, we encourage you to call us or write us for more information.
Some patrons have asked us for a rating system like they have for movies. I know other theaters use those ratings, even though they are copyrighted by the Motion Picture Association of America, but we don’t want to be the parent for your family. You might well disagree with what we deem appropriate for a thirteen year old.
That’s one of the reasons we have a website: you can check out the show in advance. That’s why we publish the performance previews that surround the main kiosk at the entrance to the UNM Center for the Arts.
We’d prefer that you not come to a show than have you attend something you don’t like and complain to us about it after. When you come to a show at Popejoy, we want you to enjoy it, even if that means leaving some of your family home.
Terry S. Davis
Photo: (l to r) Michael Lomenda, Nick Cosgrove, Miles Jacoby and John Gardiner from Jersey Boys. Photo by Jeremy Daniel