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Schuylkill County News

Schuylkill County Theater Group Cancels All Ages Drag Show After Catholic Diocese Threatens Legal Action

The theater group purchased a former church from the Diocese in 2019 but apparently with an asterisk attached.

A Schuylkill County theater group says it’d been threatened with legal action if it didn’t cancel an all ages drag show it had scheduled at its St. Clair venue this weekend.

In a Facebook post on Thursday, Actors Guild of Schuylkill County and Kelsey Theater said it was “with great disappointment” that they had to cancel the A Night at Disney all ages drag show. The show was set for Saturday, Feb. 24 at the theater in St. Clair.

A Night at Disney was advertised as an all ages drag show featuring numerous performers. It was billed as a BYOB event, too.

Actors Guild of Schuylkill County says the Diocese of Allentown threatened legal action against the organization if it didn’t take this course of action. The theater group purchased their venue from the Diocese back in 2019. It’s located at 229 N. Mill St. in St. Clair. That’s the former Saints Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church.

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Apparently, the theater group agreed to a stipulation when it purchased the former church that ultimately gave the Diocese some control over what happens in the building.

The Kelsey Theater in St. Clair is the former Saints Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church on N. Mill St. Actors Guild of Schuylkill County purchased the building in 2019. (Coal Region Canary photos)

In a response to a frustrated fan on Facebook, the Actors Guild writes, “We paid for the building. Unfortunately there is a conveyance clause by the Diocese on the land the building is on that they have subjectively decided we are breaking by having this event.”

In a statement released to The Canary explaining its stance, the Diocese says, “We were disappointed to learn that the Actors Guild of Schuylkill County intended to violate the deed restrictions supporting Catholic values to which they agreed when purchasing the former church building of St. Peter and St. Paul from the parish in 2019. Drag shows, particularly those including minors, contradict the teachings of the Church and our understanding of the dignity of the human person.”

The Actors Guild counters the Diocese’s stance on this issue and their idea to put on an all ages drag show. They called out what they perceive as an intolerance of others.

In its initial Facebook post, the Actors Guild writes, “We are saddened by the intolerance of others in the community and the slander that we have been enduring.”

Further, the organization says it wouldn’t be able to challenge the Diocese’s stance on this particular issue.

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“If it were possible, we as a performing arts venue would continue with the show, however due to circumstances outside of our hands we have been forced to cancel the show with recent threats of legal action from the Catholic Diocese. We simply are not big enough or rich enough to fight the Catholic Diocese,” the Facebook post reads.

The Diocese says in its lone statement to The Canary, “The Diocese of Allentown relied on the good will of the Actors Guild of Schuylkill County and the promises they undertook when taking ownership of the church property. We are saddened and would have preferred a dialogue to discuss this understanding.

“We agreed to the sale of the former church to the Actors Guild with the intention of supporting the arts and enhancing cultural enrichment in Schuylkill County. A nearby parish also offered the use of their own parking lot to support their events.

“We remain open to dialogue with the Actors Guild and hope they accept this offer of
collaboration to ensure that the terms of the agreement are met, and our values are respected,” the Diocese says.

The Actors Guild updated fans late Monday night, telling those who purchased tickets to this event that refunds had been processed. The organization says the decision they feel forced into making will adversely affect it.

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“This would have been a wonderful fundraising event for us as a nonprofit group who is desperately in need of funding for a new roof, among other things. We are so very disheartened with this turn of events. Please know that we will continue to support equality in the arts. We appreciate the positive interest in the show, of which there has been much,” the Actors Guild writes on its Facebook page.

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12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. James. EISENHART

    February 23, 2024 at 1:01 pm

    Good to know -won’t be attending their events

  2. Janet M Heller

    February 23, 2024 at 1:47 pm

    Got to love how a church that is supposed to be accepting to all doesn’t accept a harmless drag show. I left the Catholic Church long ago due to the hypocrisy. Perfect example of how not to practice what you preach.

    • PTFloridian

      February 26, 2024 at 9:52 am

      Please explain to all of us how all-age drag shows, aren’t harmful to the perception and development of children’s minds and mental health…
      … burlesque and drag shows were, and have always been, for adult audiences. It was simply unlawful, and abusive to children to be taken to places like that…it was unheard of.

  3. Phil Galasso

    February 23, 2024 at 8:43 pm

    Kudos to the Diocese of Allentown for standing up for Catholic/Christian values by stopping this filth from being performed. The inclusion of children in this filth show “compounds the felony”. Am I showing my age if I remember when such shows would have been raided by the police?
    Perhaps this theatre group should move to 13th and Spruce in Philly and find a nice gay bar for such “entertainment”…but no children. The LCB might take issue!

  4. insider

    February 25, 2024 at 8:34 am

    Keep the Bible out of the building.Stories of illicit sex,incest and the stories of angels hooking up with humans will warp the minds of your children. Check out what Noah’s daughters did to him after the flood…and he was over 600 years old at he time.People in glass houses…or”holy”houses….

    • PTFloridian

      February 26, 2024 at 10:02 am

      Your attempt to compare apples and oranges, so to speak, is a perfect example of how folks try desperately to normalize behaviors like this. The majority of people don’t want to be bothered with nonsense like this. Parents are tasked with guarding, guiding and developing their children to be mindful, responsible, law-abiding and productive adults, that reflects their family values.
      … furthermore, people that disagree with others, are not intolerant, they simply disagree with your opinion…it does work both ways. The word intolerance has been weaponized against folks that simply disagree with others’ opinions…

      • insider

        February 27, 2024 at 8:48 am

        It appears that the last two generations that raised today’s children have failed in their duties.Drag shows were not the problem.The”apples”haven’t fallen far from the trees…

      • insider

        February 27, 2024 at 8:52 am

        Intolerance??? Your word not mine.Deflection.

  5. Frank

    February 26, 2024 at 6:29 am

    “Tolerance” goes both ways. Respecting the views that drag shows for all ages just may violate the agreement and just may not be a good thing for “all ages”, that would be “tolerance”.
    Pretending that this is harmless is clearly ignorant and intolerant.

    • PTFloridian

      February 26, 2024 at 9:53 am

      Well said, Frank.

  6. PTFloridian

    February 26, 2024 at 11:37 am

    “The War On Children”

    …Film shows left targets ‘core American values’ with identity-ideology battles: Gender ‘war on kids’ exposes drag shows, sexual children’s books and more, featuring ex drag performers and others…

    Educate and Evaluate.

    • insider

      February 27, 2024 at 2:08 pm

      Do they still watch”Reefer Madness”?

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