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He Says: Celebrate The Prom on Broadway

He Says: Celebrate The Prom on Broadway

When I walked into the Longacre Theater to see Broadway‘s new musical, The Prom, I had pretty low expectations, wondering where this poorly named show was going to fall in the spectrum of shows too small (or too unformed) for the Broadway stage. Was it going to disappoint like Pretty Woman, or mildly entertain like Gettin’ the Band Back Together, or maybe, just maybe, it would be a pleasantly surprise, like MTC’s play, The Nap? Happily, joyously, The Prom jumps ahead of them all, proudly and easily surpassing its deceivingly stale title, reinventing the musical comedy wheel with stupendous charm, humor and a whole wagon full of heart and cleverness. I don’t think I’ve been so wonderfully surprised in a long long time, as Bob Martin (no surprise there, I should have known…- The Drowsy Chaperone, “Slings and Arrows”) and Chad Beguelin’s book, Matthew Sklar’s (Broadway’s Elf) music and Beguelin’s (Disney’s Aladdin) hilariously spot on lyrics overflows the punch bowl with smart and sassy songs one after the other, glorified by magnificent performances, and a heartfelt message of love, connection, and inclusion.

The Prom
It all begins in a land far far away from small town Edgewater, Indiana, USA, in NYC at an opening and closing night party for a new Broadway show. It’s an unmitigated disaster, although you’d never know it by the lead’s delusion, about Franklin D, and Eleanor Roosevelt, starring the legendary and super inflated egomaniacs, Barry Glickman and Dee Dee Allen, played to perfection by the glorious award-winning Brooks Ashmanskas (Broadway’s Something Rotten!, The Producers) and Beth Leavel (Broadway’s Bandstand, Baby It’s You!). After having their reviews, worse than the ones for King Kong, read to them by their agent, Sheldon Saperstein, gloriously portrayed with an extra slice of ham by Josh Lamon (2ST’s Little Miss Sunshine), the delusional duo, along with the aging (beautifully) showgirl with the longest legs in showbiz, Angie, magnificently played by the stunning Angie Schworer (who naturally was Ulla in Broadway’s The Producers),and waiter, actor, and Juilliard graduate, Trent Oliver, played to perfection by Christopher Sieber (Broadway’s Matilda, Pippin) look for a mission to derail their bad PR stance. Since “nobody likes a narcissist“, and after bypassing the boring problem of the Electoral College, beautifully recited out of nowhere by Angie, they choose Emma’s plight, a mid-western Indiana lesbian high school student, sweetly played by the gentle but fierce Caitlin Kinnunen (Broadway’s Spring Awakening). She’s bravely standing up for her right, even when denied, to bring her girlfriend to The Prom, although her girlfriend, Alyssa, played wonderfully by Isabelle McCalla (Broadway/national tour as Jasmine in Aladdin) is too scared to come out of the closet and embrace the cause herself. These five Broadway types jump on this cause, thinking that this is the perfect remedy for their falling and failed reputations.
The Prom
What follows next is heaven, especially when each get their moment to shine; thanks to music supervisor/vocal arranger Mary-Mitchell Campbell (Broadway’s Tuck Everlasting), orchestrations by Larry Hochman (Broadway’s Hello, Dolly!), additional orchestrations by John Clancy (Broadway’s Fun Home), music arrangements by Glen Kelly (Broadway’s The Book of Mormon), music coordination by Howard Joines (Broadway’s Groundhog Day), and music director Meg Zervoulis (Broadway’s Great Comet). As directed and choreographed with glory by superstar Casey Nicholaw (West End’s Dreamgirls, Broadway’s Mean Girls), each of the cast gets their spotlight number to garner our applause wholeheartedly. “Changing Lives” is what they are here for, sorta, after their damaged egos get a bit of external validation.  The caravan of Broadway types bus them selves in on the backs of a low budget Hair tour, and try their mightiest to save “one lesbian at a time“, much to the initial delight of the progressive musical-lovin’ principal, Mr. Hawkins, played magnificently by the wonderfully grounded Michael Potts (Broadway’s The Iceman Cometh), an avid Dee Dee fan. He gets his dream and his disappointment all rolled up in one singular sensational lady. “We Look to You” is his number, and we all do look to Leavel’s Dee Dee, especially as she blows the friggin’ roof off the theatre with her number, “It’s Not About Me” and then sells us her story, “The Lady’s Improving“. Sieber shines in his perfectly timely and smartly written song, “Love Thy Neighbor” raising the roof of that convenience story church. Not to worry though, both Ashmanskas gets his with the fantastic “Unruly Heart” and Schworer’s Angie, along with the nervously wonderful Emma, kicks it up one more notch after the other with the fabulous “Zazz“, selling it as only that “sweet MILF ass” can. It’s a not-to-be-missed ode to Broadway’s Chicago and to showbiz itself, and this Fosse girl certainly knows how to give it to us in spades.
The Prom
The lesbian sweethearts are not outshined though by the Broadway scene stealers. Singing engagingly hidden out of view, they steal our hearts with “Dance with You“, as the couple does alongside the rest of the talented crew that play the young high school lovers in “You Happened“. The cause and the creation is perfection, and with a delightful set design by Scott Pask (Broadway’s The Band’s Visit), festive and glittery costuming by Ann Roth (Broadway’s Blackbird), strong lighting by Natasha Katz (Broadway’s Frozen), and a tuned-in sound design by Brian Ronan (Broadway’s Margaritaville), no moment is missed or messed up. I’m thrilled to report that The Prom is a full throttle joy to behold, making me want to insist that all get a date and go to this particular festive and fun Prom, especially if you didn’t get a chance to go to your own high school one because of feeling like a loser, an outcast, or an oddity. Just dress yourself up in your prom-best, pin on that corsage, push aside that evil bigoted mother of Alyssa’s, played gloriously by Courtenay Collins (off-Broadway’s Eating Raoul) and dance with joy as all are welcome to The Prom. “Is this what not failing feels like?“. Yes. It. Is. And you won’t regret going for one minute, but really, was their not a better name to be found for this magnificently funny glorious stupendous musical that begins to parallel this amazement? It deserves something much much better.
The Prom
The Prom, Music by Matthew Sklar, Book by Bob Martin and Chad Beguelin, Lyrics by Chad Beguelin, Directed and Choreographed by Casey Nicholaw, opening night November 15 2018 Longacre Theatre cast: Brooks Ashmanskas (Barry Glickman), Beth Leavel (Dee Dee Allen), Christopher Sieber (Trent Oliver), Caitlin Kinnunen (Emma), Isabelle McCalla (Alyssa Greene), Michael Potts (Mr. Hawkins), Angie Schworer (Angie), Courtenay Collins (Mrs. Greene) and Josh Lamon (Sheldon Saperstein).For more, go to


My love for theater started when I first got involved in high school plays and children's theatre in London, Ontario, which led me—much to my mother’s chagrin—to study set design, directing, and arts administration at York University in Toronto. But rather than pursuing theater as a career (I did produce and design a wee bit), I became a self-proclaimed theater junkie and life-long supporter. I am not a writer by trade, but I hope to share my views and feelings about this amazing experience we are so lucky to be able to see here in NYC, and in my many trips to London, Enlgand, Chicago, Toronto, Washington, and beyond. Living in London, England from 1985 to 1986, NYC since 1994, and on my numerous theatrical obsessive trips to England, I've seen as much theater as I can possibly afford. I love seeing plays. I love seeing musicals. If I had to choose between a song or a dance, I'd always pick the song. Dance—especially ballet—is pretty and all, but it doesn’t excite me as, say, Sondheim lyrics. But that being said, the dancing in West Side Story is incredible! As it seems you all love a good list, here's two. FAVORITE MUSICALS (in no particular order): Sweeney Todd with Patti Lupone and Michael Cerveris in 2005. By far, my most favorite theatrical experience to date. Sunday in the Park with George with Jenna Russell (who made me sob hysterically each and every one of the three times I saw that production in England and here in NYC) in 2008 Spring Awakening with Jonathan Groff and Lea Michele in 2007 Hedwig and the Angry Inch (both off-Boadway in 1998 and on Broadway in 2014, with Neal Patrick Harris, but also with Michael C. Hall and John Cameron Mitchell, my first Hedwig and my far), Next To Normal with Alice Ripley (who I wish I had seen in Side Show) in 2009 FAVORITE PLAYS (that’s more difficult—there have been so many and they are all so different): Angels in American, both on Broadway and off Lettice and Lovage with Dame Maggie Smith and Margaret Tyzack in 1987 Who's Afraid of Virginai Woolf with Tracy Letts and Amy Morton in 2012 Almost everything by Alan Ayckbourn, but especially Woman in Mind with Julia McKenzie in 1986 And to round out the five, maybe Proof with Mary Louise Parker in 2000. But ask me on a different day, and I might give you a different list. These are only ten theatre moments that I will remember for years to come, until I don’t have a memory anymore. There are many more that I didn't or couldn't remember, and I hope a tremendous number more to come. Thanks for reading. And remember: read, like, share, retweet, enjoy. For more go to

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