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« The Design of Life | Main | Dr. Drew in the House... Church’s Guide to Good Sex »

March 31, 2008

Okay, so I’m a hypocrite

I was happy to hear that a musical version of A Tale of Two Cities was coming to Broadway in the fall. A good one, too. I have the concept album -- not the one you can easily get off the show's website, either, but a really hard-to-find early version. Hey, it's Dickens plus Broadway. This is big stuff for me.

Unfortunately, there's a problem.

Now, I feel more than a little hypocritical about this. I'm the one who argued that Keisha Castle-Hughes's unwed pregnancy shouldn't turn people away from seeing The Nativity Story. And I still don't think it should.

But here you have a man who went to jail for molesting a minor -- and he has to stand on stage and sing a lullaby to a little girl. In front of an audience full of kids who will later be swarming the stage door to meet him, as people do at Broadway theaters. This is not a good situation.

And . . . well . . . this is Sydney Carton. Sydney Carton! This is the man I've been in love with since I was fifteen years old! I'll be honest, the whole thing makes me intensely uncomfortable. (But if you're thinking that anyone who's been in love with a fictional character for seventeen years has a few problems of her own, I won't deny you have a point.)

I'm certainly not arguing for ostracizing James Barbour for the rest of his life. Or even for forcing him to find another line of work. But truthfully, bringing him to Broadway in a family show where he's interacting directly with a child actress is asking for trouble -- not just for any children involved, but for him as well -- and I can't help thinking that the producers need to deal with it sooner rather than later, by recasting now. Keep in mind that he served a light sentence and that we've heard nothing about his undergoing any sort of treatment to get help for his problem. I notice that even the majority of theater fans on the Broadway message board I frequent, many of whom have seen, heard, and done it all and usually don't care who's doing what with whom, are calling for Barbour's removal. (As one of them commented, even worse than the lullaby scene would be Carton's big eleven o'clock number, titled "Let Her Be a Child." Ouch.)

Still, we believe -- and several here have said in the past -- that God's grace is for all, including sex offenders, and based on that, it's possible there are differing points of view on how to handle this situation. What do some of you think?

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Comments

Katharine Eastvold

For the record, I don't think you're a hypocrite. What you're saying is not that Barbour ought to be fired as punishment for his misdeeds, or even because he might serve as a negative role model, but rather because of the real danger of his interacting with children, both onstage and offstage, during the course of the production. Out-of-wedlock sex and child molestation are both sins, but the latter is usually associated with a psychological disorder and is a habit that can be broken only with very great difficulty, whereas the former can for many people be an isolated incident, not at all indicative of some underlying pathology.

- KPE

Sue J

I have read various articles & posts, and it is my understanding that this "child" represented herself as being over 18 and as soon as Barbour found out she was underage ended the relationship. He pleaded guilty to avoid a trial and get on with his life. She came forward after many years hoping to get some financial/career compensation (she's an aspiring actress). While JB was stupid, I think there were issues on both sides and he shouldn't have to bear the brunt of ridicule/career loss.

Gina Dalfonzo

Sue -- I wish I could believe that, but the reports I've seen say otherwise. For instance:

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/ny_crime/2008/01/03/2008-01-03_type_casting_broadway_beast_james_barbou.html

Mendina Obertz

I, also, have read accounts by third parties, even a reporter, that say the same about the age thing. It is pecualiar nowdays how just touching someone might land you in a "sex offender" list. Also, there are many things about this case which are quite absurd, to say the least, such as coming out 5 years later, after she was e-mailing him and being friends with him for all that time, while he helped her with information and contacts(?). He does not seem to be a sex offender at all, and I just wonder why this case was not settled out of court(or why was it brought to court at all?). This girl must have known the trouble and emotional upheaval that this case would bring to Barbour and all those involved by connection to it. It is all very sad.

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