It could be “Goodbye!” instead of “Hello, Dolly!” following a dramatic shakeup in the Saucon Valley Theater program that has some parents wondering if, and how, the show will go on.
Director Chad Miller and others have quit the production, Saucon Source has learned, and an announcement posted on the Saucon Valley School District Theater website Wednesday said the musical’s “cast list has been voided.”
According to sources who spoke off the record, Miller’s decision Tuesday to resign from the production was at least in part the result of what one parent characterized as “bullying” and threats he reportedly received from parents of children who weren’t cast in their preferred roles or weren’t cast in the spring musical at all.
And that is nothing new, said a recent alumna of Saucon Valley High School who participated in theatrical productions as a student there.
“The musicals were directed by Mr. Miller for three years and every year they took a toll on him,” she said. “(He) never got the recognition for basically being the head of the theater department for the entire school. Miller always used to tell us how brutal the parents are when it comes to casting.”
In an email sent to parents of theater students Tuesday night, Miller confirmed that “the high school production of ‘Hello, Dolly!’ will be put on hold until a new director and team is found. It will be up to them to determine auditions and any other aspect of the production.”
In a follow-up email to a parent, shared with Saucon Source, Miller said he did not believe the production’s cast would change but noted that it “will take some time to make that happen,” before adding, “I can no longer be a part of this aspect of Saucon.”
Saucon Source has reached out to Miller as well as high school principal Tamara Gary for further comment, which had not been received as of this story’s publication.
In another email shared with Saucon Source by a parent, superintendent Dr. Craig Butler responded to the parent’s concern about the production’s future by telling him, “we are working on this situation and should know more by the end of the day tomorrow.”
News of the alleged bullying of a school district staff member by parents comes as the district remains in the media spotlight for bullying of a different kind.
Police said Saucon Valley Middle School staff investigated the incidents internally and had already closed their cases on them when law enforcement authorities requested more information for their investigation, which ultimately resulted in the filing of the charges.
According to information posted on the Saucon Valley School District website, responding to bullying is a priority for district staff and administrators.
“District protocol dictates that when incidents of bullying, name calling and insensitive remarks are reported to administration, they are investigated and handled as the specific situation dictates,” a section of the website titled Responding to Potential Bullying Incidents states. “In response to such incidents over the past several years, administrators have spoken with all students involved, parents and teachers and have then met with students and others as appropriate to discuss the behavior and consequences. Often counselors are involved as well to process through the situation with the students and to educate the students about the hurtfulness of their words.”
Editor’s Note: Please note that this is a developing story. It will be updated with new information about the production when or if it becomes available.