Review of The Prom on Broadway, now playing at Longacre Theater
Ah, the prom….there’s always drama and issues associated with it, no matter where in the country you happen to live. Now The Prom is on Broadway, with its own issues, drama, and a whole lot more. Set in small town Indiana, where high schooler Emma unwittingly attracts the attention of four New York Actors desperately in need of an image makeover, this prom is like nothing you’ve ever attended. With extremely funny characters and dialogue, high energy performances, stellar talent, and a joyful and timely message that will inspire and delight you, you really have to go to The Prom. And so does your kid. Here’s why.
It’s funny. Right from the opening number, it was obvious that this show is “a hit” – I honestly did not know too much about the storyline before we got there, in fact I think I knew less about this show than any other show I’ve seen. It immediately hooked us in, and literally everyone in the audience was shrieking with laughter. The four New York actors (Dee Dee, Barry, Trent and Angie, played by Beth Leavel, Brooks Ashmanskas, Christopher Sieber, and Angie Schworer, respectively), along with publicist Sheldon (Josh Lamon), play off each other expertly and hysterically. Famous Broadway actors playing Famous Broadway actors provide plenty of “insider” Broadway humor and the script, by Bob Martin and Chad Beguelin, is literally a laugh a minute. Even when it’s serious, it’s funny. For example, take “It’s Not About Me” – in which Dee Dee and the others arrive, uninvited, in Indiana, much to the dismay of Emma (Caitlin Kinnunen), who wants nothing less than NOT to be the center of attention. All she wants is to dance at the prom with the girl she loves, Alyssa (Isabelle McCalla). This is in direct opposition to Dee Dee, who tries, unconvincingly, to make the general public believe that it’s um, not about her, by belting out a hysterical show stopper, the first of many. If the curtain had gone down right after that number, it would have already been worth it. And that was just the beginning. I knew it was going to be funny…I just didn’t expect it to be THAT funny. The “funniness level” completely exceeded my expectations.
The talent level is off the charts. Off. The. Charts. Every role is perfectly cast and each actor basically becomes the character he or she plays. We were all blown away by the singing and the high energy dancing, from the leads to the ensemble. Absolute perfection. Duets between Emma and girlfriend Alyssa will give you chills when they harmonize together. And wow, Angie Schworer brings the “zazz” with her high kicking legs that will leave you wide-eyed in amazement. Beth Leavel, Brooks Ashmanskas, and Christopher Sieber?? What can I possibly say? Off. The. Charts. Would it be cliche to say, “This is Broadway at its finest?” Yes, but I don’t care. This is Broadway at its finest. Literally every person on that stage, regardless of his or her role, is an amazing performer.
It’s Sweet. High School Principal/Broadway Enthusiast Mr. Hawkins, played by Michael Potts, delivers a heart-warming justification for our (meaning, “us normal people’s) fascination with and need for entertainment in “We Look to You.” I also loved “Barry is Going to Prom,” – as a grown woman who never went to her high school prom, I could feel his joy and excitement at being asked to go with someone. The show is at times bittersweet, however, as it shows that intolerance and inability to accept others as they are is definitely alive and thriving in our country. Songs like “Love Thy Neighbor” and “Unruly Heart” help counteract all of that and bring a sense of unity and “feel-good-ness” that is impossible to ignore. Yes, there are a few curse words in this show – nothing my kid hasn’t heard me say once or twice (LOL) and yes, it deals with…gasp…homosexuality – but I feel this is almost mandatory viewing for our younger generations as they navigate this world we live in and these times we are experiencing. What an awesome way to teach tolerance, to both young and not so young, whatever side of the political map you’re on. You know how “Hamilton” is an awesome way to teach kids (and certain 50 year olds) about US History? Well, The Prom is an awesome way to teach kids about acceptance – both of others and ourselves.
It changes lives and unifies us. Lots of “life changing” takes place at this prom. Dee Dee is definitely transformed, as is the entire town of Edgewater, Indiana. I truly think that The Prom on Broadway can change the minds of the stubbornly intolerant and will certainly help our youth have the courage to be themselves, which is one of the hardest things in life to do. At the end of the show, literally everyone was standing up, dancing and clapping, and although there were surely people in the audience from all walks of life, for that moment, we were one. Each of us completely unique, yet the same as the person to the left or right of our seat. This was a powerful show, with a powerful message, delivered by major star power. It’s time to celebrate individuality. It’s time to dance. It’s time for The Prom.
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