“The Prom” is a relatively new musical, debuting on Broadway in 2018 (although, being pre-pandemic, that feels like approximately 750 years ago).
That means that most people (myself included) were introduced to the musical by the 2020 film version that debuted on Netflix.
Since it was directed by Ryan Murphy, everything got turned up to 11 and the miscast (overcast?) parade of stars including Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, James Corden and Kerry Washington made the show seem like an exhausting mess.
Fortunately “The Prom” is redeemed when taken back to its roots on stage, as proven by the delightful touring production now playing at the Fox Theatre through Feb. 6.
The story is a simple one of big-city hubris colliding with small-town intolerance. In New York City a group of struggling Broadway actors are looking to rehabilitate their public images.
Fading superstar Dee Dee Allen (Ashley Bruce) and fellow headliner Barry Glickman (Patrick Wetzel) are reeling after their latest show closed after just one performance. Along with struggling Julliard graduate and former sitcom star Trent Oliver (Jordan Alexander) and long, long-time chorus girl Angie (Emily Borromeo) this vain and selfish quartet are thrilled when they discover the perfect cause.
In a small town in Indiana, high-school lesbian Emma (Kaden Kearney) causes a huge commotion when she wants to take another girl to the prom. The townspeople, led by PTA president Mrs. Greene (Ashanti J’Aria) decide to cancel prom.
When the Broadway stars arrive, they quickly proceed to make matters worse with poor Emma and her well-meaning principal Mr. Hawkins (Christopher McCrewell) caught in the middle.
In the end, thanks to Emma’s bravery, the Broadway crew learns some humility, the townspeople learn some tolerance and we are treated to a lot of fun along the way.
The cast, in true the-show-must-go-on fashion, rallied after a handful of COVID cancellations and with several understudies mixed in they delivered excellent performances all around.
The songs are catchy and clever (the number “Just Breathe” starts with the line “Note to self, don’t be gay in Indiana.”) and there’s really not a clunker in the bunch.
“The Prom” is a grand time and proves itself worthy of a second look, especially if you were left unimpressed by the movie version.
“The Prom” is now playing at the Fox Theatre through Feb. 6. For tickets call (314)-534-1111 or go to metrotix.com.