The company of the Prom

The company of the Prom

It was prom night all over again for the many enthusiastic attendees of the National Broadway Tour of “The Prom” at Playhouse Square in downtown Cleveland. Everyone was soaking in the nostalgia, a few even clad in prom dresses and tuxes, reliving his or her own prom story. But it is highly unlikely that any of those stories compare to that of Constance McMillen who, in 2010, was not allowed to bring her girlfriend to the Agricultural High School Prom in Itawamba County, Miss. The case ignited a media storm that gained national attention, especially upon discovering that the school parents had organized a separate prom for the entire student body, excluding Constance.

McMillen’s story is the impetus for Broadway’s hit musical comedy, “The Prom.” In fact, the musical lifts several facts directly from her real life, but dressed up and “bedazzled” with all of the glitz and charm of a classic Broadway musical, complete with splashy choreography, glorious harmonies, loads of laughs, the right amount of tears, and the happily ever after that many real life prom goers don’t even get.

The audience was “drinking the punch” from the moment the show began with four narcissistic actors drowning their sorrows over some bad reviews that shut down their new musical about Eleanor Roosevelt before it really got off the ground. The washed-up performers decide they need to attach themselves to a cause, in order to get some positive press which might restore their flailing careers. They stumble upon the story of Emma, a lesbian teen at an Indiana high school, who is being targeted by her peers and the PTA parents for simply wanting to take her girlfriend to the prom.

The actors decide to jump on the bandwagon and help Emma. “All we need is an anthem ... like ‘We Are the World’ ... but for lesbians.” Eventually, with the help of a sympathetic principal and some guidance (albeit misguided) from the actors, the parents and students are forced to take a long, hard look in the mirror-ball to find their hearts underneath their fear and prejudice. Even the actors themselves learn a lesson about narcissism when they realize … they actually care.

The opening number, “Changing Lives,” sets the tone for a fast-paced comic romp with lessons that will be taught, but not preached. The talented cast is clearly in their element. And why not? Each character is given plenty of opportunities to shine. And shine, they do. Tony winner Courtney Balan as Dee Dee is a real firecracker with a solid Broadway belt that soars to the rafters. She is larger than life, and over the top, without falling over the edge.

Patrick Wetzel is loveable as the proudly flamboyant Barry Glickman. Wetzel’s versatility is evident in his comic timing and his sincere vulnerability, and he makes his song “Barry is Going to Prom” a better song than it actually is. Emily Borromeo and Bud Weber are delightful as Angie and Trent. Borromeo has all the “Zazz” required to sell her big number, and Weber, though not as seasoned as the others, is a crowd pleaser, especially in his show stopping, foot stomping gospel number “Love Thy Neighbor.” At the center of the story is the role of Emma, and Kaden Kearney’s whole heart is in full view during this passionate performance. Kearney has a pleasant voice, though it does not pack a punch or have the richness that some of Emma’s powerful songs need.

The ensemble is top-notch and really showcases Matthew Sklar’s snappy harmonies and director/choreographer, Casey Nicholaw’s appropriately cheesy and fabulously fun choreography.

Occasionally, there were times when the microphones were off when they should have been on, and there were some line mishaps, but those tiny blips were forgiven, because this prom story was ultimately a sweet one, and the audience was just grateful to have received their “promposal” in order to attend The Prom.

How do you feel about this article?

Choose from the options below.

0
0
0
0
1