*The Prom,* 11/21/18

November 24, 2018

I saw *The Prom* on 11/21/18. It’s a new Broadway musical with music by Matthew Sklar, lyrics by Chad Beguelin, and a book by Beguelin and Bob Martin. It opens at the opening night party of a new Broadway musical about FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt. The NY Times review is bad beyond bad. The leading lady (played by Beth Leavel) and leading man (Brooks Ashmanskas) try to come up with a way to restore their reputations. They enlist the help of an actor-turned-waiter (Christopher Sieber) and permanent understudy for *Chicago* (Angie Schworer) and they decide they need to find a cause. The understudy sees a story on Twitter about a girl in rural Indiana who wants to bring a girl to her prom but the PTA won’t let her, so they cancel the prom altogether. The four of them decide to go to Indiana (they hitch a ride with a non-Equity bus-and-truck production of *Godspell*) and save the day.

 

You can guess most of the rest of the story, right? There are a few thoughtful twists and turns, but it pretty much goes where you expect it to go. I loved the show, it had a bright, fresh energy and an interesting mix of heart and pizzazz. It’s like if *Dear Evan Hansen* and *Something Rotten* had a baby - - the high school outcast being bullied and emerging stronger from the struggle on the one hand and the Broadway musical in jokes and blinding camp and razzle dazzle on the other hand. These elements were balanced beautifully, which is maybe the greatest achievement of the show.

 

Having director and choreographer Casey Nicolaw at the helm made a huge difference. He’s one of the best directors and choreographers on Broadway, I’ve loved his work on *Aladdin,* *The Book of Mormon,* *The Drowsy Chaperone,* and *Something Rotten.* He knows how to put on a freaking SHOW.

 

I’ll give a special shout-out to Caitlin Kinnunen in the role of the central high school girl. She has a lovely, strong voice and was an earnest, sincere antidote to all of the show biz charisma surrounding her. She was the heart of the show.

 

The high point of the show was the last sequence in the first act. It was positively Brechtian! It had the audience wowed and drawn in by a dazzling dance sequence and then a few minutes later made to feel dirty and guilty for having enjoyed it. I love that kind of manipulation, I find it very rewarding. And what does that say about me.

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