Banned singer's career on upswing

March 28, 1991|By Randi Henderson

Children's performer Barry Louis Polisar -- who last made the news six months ago when his work was banned from Anne Arundel County schools -- will be playing at the White House next week.

"Isn't it amazing what a difference six months makes?" Mr. Polisar asked laughingly yesterday from his Silver Spring home.

Mr. Polisar will perform Easter Monday at the annual White House Easter egg hunt, held every year on the White House lawn.

Some 30,000 children and their parents are expected to hunt eggs and watch the program, which will be emceed by ventriloquist Shari Lewis (and Lamb Chop) and will also include performances by the National Symphony Orchestra youth quartet, the youth dancers of the Washington Ballet and the Dance Theater of Harlem.

Both President and Mrs. Bush will be in Florida, and will not be at the egg hunt.

Neither a White House spokesman nor an executive for the production company that put the show together was aware of Mr. Polisar's troubles with Anne Arundel County, where the school board last fall deemed his material "unsuitable for use as instructional material."

Mr. Polisar's songs are irreverent and satirical, covering topics ranging from nose-picking to underwear, girls with beards to sadistic big brothers. "If you've got a kid who complains all the time," he advises in one song, "put a rope around his mouth and lock him in a box."

"We listened to his tapes and thought he was wonderful," said Kathleen Berry, an account executive at Summit Productions, the New York company that has staged the Easter Monday show for the past three years.

Mr. Polisar said that the White House invitation is not the only good news he's received this week. He was also notified that he has been selected to receive a special award from the Maryland Library Association for his work, which the association praised for its "joyous silliness."

Mr. Polisar has appealed the action of the Anne Arundel schools and said, "According to my lawyer, we're real close to resolving something." A spokesman for the schools could not be reached for comment.

The singer-songwriter also noted that while his career continues to do well nationally, "I have seen a major drop in my concerts locally. Here in Maryland I was perceived as controversial. That's why the effects of the ban were so chilling."

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