The Prom (musical)
|Book||Bob Martin |
by Jack Viertel
|Premiere||August 18, 2016: Alliance Theatre, Atlanta|
|Awards||Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical|
The Prom is a musical with music by Matthew Sklar, lyrics by Chad Beguelin, and a book by Bob Martin and Beguelin, based on an original concept by Jack Viertel. The musical follows four Broadway actors lamenting their days of fame, as they travel to the conservative town of Edgewater, Indiana, to help a lesbian student banned from bringing her girlfriend to high school prom.
In 2010, Constance McMillen was a senior at Itawamba Agricultural High School in Fulton, Mississippi. She had plans to bring her girlfriend to their senior prom and wear a tuxedo, and in response, was banned from attending by the school board. McMillen challenged the board's decision; in response, the board decided to entirely cancel that year's senior prom. McMillen and the ACLU sued her school district, and a federal court found the Itawamba School District guilty of violating McMillen's First Amendment rights. However, the judge did not force the school district to reinstate the prom.
Furthermore, McMillen was in fact sent to a fake prom attended by only seven students, two of whom had learning disabilities. The fake prom was held at a country club while the "real" prom, organized by parents, was held at a secret location.
Celebrities—such as Green Day, Cat Cora, and Lance Bass—rallied together via social media to show their support for McMillen and agreed to help sponsor a Second-Chance prom, where McMillen and her girlfriend could attend without homophobic backlash.
The show played the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta from August 18 to September 25, 2016. Casey Nicholaw was director and choreographer, with set design by Scott Pask, costumes by Ann Roth and Matthew Pachtman, lighting by Kenneth Posner and sound by Peter Hylenski.
The show began previews at the Longacre Theatre on October 23, 2018, with an official opening on November 15, 2018. The production closed on August 11, 2019, having played 23 previews and 309 regular performances. The production cost $13.5 million to stage and did not recoup its investment.
National tour (2021)
A national tour of The Prom was expected to begin February 2021 in Providence, Rhode Island.
The musical opens on Broadway, where Eleanor!: The Eleanor Roosevelt Story is celebrating its opening night with its lead cast members Dee Dee Allen and Barry Glickman ("Changing Lives"). The musical is bashed by The New York Times because Dee Dee and Barry do not understand their characters since they are self-absorbed narcissists, resulting in the show closing on opening night. To improve their image, the actors decide to take up "a cause" to appear selfless. They team up with two other actors—Trent Oliver, a Juilliard School graduate down on his luck but who has just been cast in the non-Equity tour of Godspell, and Angie Dickinson, a life-long chorus girl who just quit her job of 20 years in the musical Chicago after the producers never let her go on for the role of Roxie Hart- to find a cause that will make it look like they care. After searching on Twitter, they find Emma, a teenager from Indiana whose prom was cancelled by the Parent-Teacher Association because she wanted to bring her girlfriend. Seeing the opportunity, and some personal connection, the actors decide to go to Indiana to help ("Changing Lives (Reprise)").
Back in Indiana, Emma faces severe bullying, but she reminds herself to breathe and that not everyone is this cruel ("Just Breathe"). Mr. Hawkins, the school principal and Emma's ally, informs her that he has spoken to the state attorney and that he believes they have a chance to reinstate the prom. The school holds a meeting with the PTA to discuss reinstating the prom. As Emma and Mr. Hawkins begin to make progress, Dee Dee, Barry, Angie, and Trent barge in with protest signs to support Emma. Dee Dee reminds everyone what a good person she is for doing this while claiming that this isn't about her, humiliating Emma ("It's Not About Me"). After the meeting, it is revealed that the girl Emma wants to take to prom is Alyssa, a popular but closeted student and the daughter of Mrs. Greene, the head of the PTA. The two argue as Alyssa blames Emma for all the publicity around the prom but Emma reassures her that she didn't want this either and that she just wants to be with her ("Dance with You"). The actors attempt to hold a rally to inspire action for Emma but can only book the halftime show at a monster truck rally. They perform alongside the non-Equity tour cast of Godspell ("The Acceptance Song"). The performance is unsuccessful.
It is later learned that the state attorney ruled that the school must hold a prom. Emma thanks the actors, and Mr. Hawkins and Dee Dee go to Applebee's to celebrate. With the prom back on, students begin to "prompose" to each other. Emma officially asks Alyssa to this new prom and she agrees, promising to come out to be with her ("You Happened"). At Applebee's, Mr. Hawkins, a huge fan of Dee Dee's, tells her how much she inspires him ("We Look to You"). Barry helps Emma get ready for prom and reveals he didn't have the opportunity to go to prom either. Meanwhile, across town, other teens prepare for the prom as well ("Tonight Belongs to You"). As Emma waits outside the gym, she asks Barry to walk her in because she is nervous. As they enter, they realize that the gym is empty. Mr. Hawkins, who is inside desperately trying to resolve the issue, reveals that the PTA put on another prom across town and this one just for Emma, as required by the state attorney. Dee Dee panics that this fake prom will be bad press for her, which angers Mr. Hawkins as he learns about Dee Dee's true intentions. Emma calls Alyssa who tells her she knew nothing about the other prom. Emma asks her to come and be with her but she refuses to come out. Devastated, Emma runs out of the gym, asking all the actors to just go home.
Following the fake prom, the media frenzy around the whole event increases. The actors encourage Emma to step up and become the face of the story, but she is too scared. Angie encourages her by teaching her about zazz, sharing with her a story about Bob Fosse and the original production of Chicago ("Zazz"). Dee Dee returns to talk to Mr. Hawkins, who berates her for being so self-centered. She performs his favorite song to make it up to him and vows to begin thinking of others ("The Lady's Improving"). Trent decides that he may be able to change the minds of the youth of the town due to his small-town upbringing. He confronts a number of the students about how they and their families break the word of the Bible every day and how hypocritical they are being. He encourages them to follow "love thy neighbor" above all ("Love Thy Neighbor").
Alyssa meets with Emma to apologize, telling her about all the pressure her mother puts on her to be perfect and how she blames Alyssa for her father leaving. Emma is unable to accept her apology and they break up ("Alyssa Greene"). The actors book Emma a TV appearance, but she turns it down and tells them that she has her own plan to control the narrative and change minds. Convinced her plan will work and that they will be able to have a prom for everyone, Emma asks Barry to be her date so that he is finally able to fulfill his dream. Barry, overjoyed, agrees as he recounts his experience missing his own prom ("Barry Is Going to Prom"). Emma uploads a video of her singing with her guitar about her struggles and longing for acceptance, but how despite that she is proud of who she is and won't hide anymore. She inspires other members of the LGBTQ+ community in the area and across the country to comment on their support for her and how it has helped them ("Unruly Heart"). The video goes viral, inspiring the actors to plan an inclusive prom for Emma and all the LGBTQ+ kids across the state. The actors want Emma to finally have a prom but the school doesn't have the money for it.
The actors all donate, including Dee Dee, who turns over her American Express Black card. The PTA is furious over the possibility of a new prom but the students voice their support for an inclusive prom, thanks to Trent's efforts to change their minds. The students suggest Trent stay in Indiana and become their drama teacher. Alyssa comes out to her mother in front of the school, confessing her love for Emma. Mrs. Greene is reluctant to accept Alyssa as she is, but Barry steps in, saying if she doesn't accept Alyssa, she is going to lose her. She is devastated but begins to become more open and agrees to listen to her daughter. The PTA backs down, and quickly makes plans for a new prom, while Dee Dee and Barry question what "success" is. The school puts on this more inclusive prom and LGBTQ+ couples from the area attend, along with the straight couples of James Madison High School. Emma and Alyssa finally get their dance and share a kiss ("It's Time to Dance").
The original Broadway cast recording of The Prom was digitally released on December 14, 2018. The physical album released on January 11, 2019.
Characters and casts
|Character||Atlanta (2016)||Broadway (2018)|
|Emma Nolan||Caitlin Kinnunen|
|Barry Glickman||Brooks Ashmanskas|
|Dee Dee Allen||Beth Leavel|
|Alyssa Greene||Anna Grace Barlow||Isabelle McCalla|
|Trent Oliver||Christopher Sieber|
|Tom Hawkins||Martin Moran||Michael Potts|
|Angie Dickinson||Angie Schworer|
|Mrs. Greene||Courtenay Collins|
|Sheldon Saperstein||Josh Lamon|
|Ashley (renamed Shelby in Broadway production)||Collins Conley||Kalyn West|
|Mandy (renamed Kaylee in Broadway production)||Becca Lee|
|Olivia Keating||Aléna Watters||Courtney Balan|
|Kevin||Kevin Csolak||Drew Redington|
|Nick Boomer/Second reporter||Teddy Toye|
|Motel clerk||Josh Franklin|
The Prom was the first musical of the 2018–2019 Broadway season to be named a New York Times Critics Pick, with Jesse Green calling it "such a joyful hoot. With its kinetic dancing, broad mugging and belty anthems, it makes you believe in musical comedy again."
Frank Rizzo, writing for Variety wrote that "with a tuneful score, a playful book, and performances that remind you what Broadway heart and chutzpah are all about, this cause celebre of a show turns out to be a joyous, funny, and sweet production that should appeal to several generations of musical fans."
New York Magazine's Sara Holdren wrote: "There’s such genuine joy rolling off the stage in The Prom that you’re ready and willing to forgive it its minor misfires... Did I shed several real tears in The Prom’s final scene? Maybe I did… I also seldom stopped laughing. The show is full of witty delights."
Adam Feldman of Time Out Magazine gave the show 4 out of 5 stars, saying "It is cheering to see a musical comedy that engages with modern questions, with a teenage lesbian romance at its center to boot... But while the issues are contemporary, there is a 1980s feel to the character types and the overall style of Chad Beguelin and Matthew Sklar’s score, which resembles their work in The Wedding Singer; a stronger dose of reality in the lyrics and the book (by Beguelin and Bob Martin) would better justify the show’s eventual turn to sentimental education. But Casey Nicholaw’s peppy direction helps give the show enough momentum to power past its narrative potholes and occasional bumps of heavy-handedness."
In The Hollywood Reporter, David Rooney called the show “one part satire, packed with delicious theatrical in-jokes delivered with aplomb by game stage veterans playing caricatures of themselves; and one part inclusivity teaching moment, reminding us there's a place for everyone beneath the Mylar balloons at a high school dance, even in conservative Indiana. If the two halves aren't entirely seamless, especially in the uneven second act, the show has enough humor and heart to paper over the cracks."
On April 9, 2019, at a benefit performance of the show hosted by filmmaker and TV stalwart Ryan Murphy, Murphy announced his intentions to adapt the show into a film for Netflix. Murphy said in an interview that he intends for the film to be made quickly, with production on the film set to begin in December 2019. The film is expected to "arrive on the streaming service in fall 2020." On June 25, 2019 (updated on June 26), it was reported that the film is expected to star Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, James Corden, Andrew Rannells, Keegan-Michael Key, and Awkwafina. On November 1, 2019, it was announced that Ariana DeBose will play the role of Alyssa. On November 25, 2019, it was announced that newcomer Jo Ellen Pellman will star as the lead character, Emma Nolan. On January 25, 2020, it was announced that Kevin Chamberlin would replace Awkwafina in the role of Sheldon Saperstein, reverting the character's original gender in the musical, since Awkwafina was busy shooting her TV series Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens.
A young adult novel adaptation of the show was released on September 10, 2019, from Penguin Young Readers’ Viking Children’s Books. Saundra Mitchell wrote it, working with the show's creators to transform the musical to print.
Actresses Caitlin Kinnunen and Isabelle McCalla's kiss during The Prom's performance at the 2018 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade received significant media attention for being the first LGBTQ kiss in the parade's broadcast history.
On August 3, 2019, after a performance of the show at the Longacre Theatre, Broadway’s first-known onstage wedding occurred, between a script coordinator on the show, and a singer and actress who had recently worked with the show's musical director. It was a wedding between two women.
Awards and nominations
|Tony Awards||Best Musical||Nominated|
|Best Book of a Musical||Chad Beguelin and Bob Martin||Nominated|
|Best Original Score||Chad Beguelin and Matthew Sklar||Nominated|
|Best Leading Actor in a Musical||Brooks Ashmanskas||Nominated|
|Best Leading Actress in a Musical||Caitlin Kinnunen||Nominated|
|Best Direction of a Musical||Casey Nicholaw||Nominated|
|Drama Desk Award||Outstanding Musical||Won|
|Outstanding Book of a Musical||Chad Beguelin and Bob Martin||Nominated|
|Outstanding Lyrics||Chad Beguelin||Nominated|
|Outstanding Actor in a Musical||Brooks Ashmanskas||Nominated|
|Outstanding Actress in a Musical||Beth Leavel||Nominated|
|Outer Critics Circle Awards||Outstanding New Broadway Musical||Nominated|
|Outstanding New Score (Broadway or Off-Broadway)||Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin||Nominated|
|Outstanding Actor in a Musical||Brooks Ashmanskas||Nominated|
|Outstanding Actress in a Musical||Beth Leavel||Nominated|
|Drama League Awards||Outstanding Production of a Broadway or Off-Broadway Musical||Nominated|
|Distinguished Performance Award||Brooks Ashmanskas||Nominated|
|Broadway.com Audience Awards||Favorite New Musical||Nominated|
|Favorite Leading Actress in a Musical||Caitlin Kinnunen||Nominated|
|Favorite Funny Performance||Nominated|
|Favorite Diva Performance||Nominated|
|Favorite Onstage Pair||Caitlin Kinnunen and Isabelle McCalla||Nominated|
|Favorite Breakthrough Performance (Female)||Isabelle McCalla||Nominated|
|Favorite New Song||"Dance With You"||Nominated|
- Bryant, Kenzie (June 13, 2018). "First Look: The Prom Will Bring Gay Teen Romantic Farce to Broadway This Fall". Vanity Fair. Retrieved June 22, 2018.
- Montgomery, James. "Green Day Hope To 'Force Change' By Sponsoring Prom For Gay Teen". MTV News. Retrieved October 8, 2020.
- "Court Rules That Mississippi School Violated First Amendment Rights Of Lesbian Student". American Civil Liberties Union. Retrieved October 8, 2020.
- "MSSC Second Chance Prom: A Second Chance for Equality". ACLU of Mississippi. March 7, 2017. Retrieved December 11, 2020.
- Rizzo, Frank (September 8, 2016). "Atlanta Theater Review: 'The Prom,' Directed by Casey Nicholaw". Variety. Retrieved June 22, 2018.
- Brock, Wendell (September 9, 2016). "'The Prom' has a date with Broadway". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved June 22, 2018.
- McPhee, Ryan (October 20, 2017). "Musical Comedy The Prom Will Open on Broadway in 2018". Playbill. Retrieved June 22, 2018.
- Paulson, Michael (October 20, 2017). "'The Prom' Gets a Date for Broadway". The New York Times. Retrieved June 22, 2018.
- Hetrick, Adam. "Read Reviews for New Musical 'The Prom 'on Broadway" Playbill, November 15, 2018
- McPhee, Ryan (August 11, 2019). "Last Dance: The Prom Ends Broadway Run". Playbill. Retrieved August 11, 2019.
- Evans, Greg (June 19, 2019). "Broadway's 'The Prom' Announces Closing; Surprise Heart-Tugger Has Date With Netflix & The Road". Deadline. Retrieved June 19, 2019.
- McPhee, Ryan (June 17, 2019). "Broadway's The Prom Will Embark on a National Tour". Playbill. Retrieved June 20, 2019.
- Clement, Olivia. "The Prom to Release Broadway Cast Recording". Playbill. Retrieved November 29, 2018.
- McPhee, Ryan (May 3, 2018). "Full Cast Set for Broadway's The Prom | Playbill". Playbill. Retrieved June 22, 2018.
- Green, Jesse (November 15, 2018). "'The Prom' Review: Bringing Jazz Hands to the Heartland". The New York Times. Retrieved December 1, 2018.
- Rizzo, Frank. "Broadway Review: The Prom" Variety, November 15, 2018
- Holdren, Sara (November 15, 2018). "Theater Review: The Prom, Where Theater Geeks Belt Away Without Shame". www.vulture.com. Retrieved August 7, 2019.
- "The Prom | Longacre Theatre | Theater in New York". Time Out New York. Retrieved August 7, 2019.
- "'The Prom': Theater Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 7, 2019.
- Gardner, Chris (April 9, 2019). "Ryan Murphy Sets Movie Adaptation of Hit Broadway Musical 'The Prom' at Netflix". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 9, 2019.
- McPhee, Ryan. "Ariana DeBose Joins Netflix Adaptation of 'The Prom'" Playbill, November 1, 2019
- Daw, Stephen (June 25, 2019). "Ryan Murphy Casts Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman & More in Netflix's 'The Prom' Adaptation". Billboard. Retrieved June 25, 2019.
- McHenry, Jackson. "Update: Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman in Ryan Murphy’s Exclusively Famous-Person Version of The Prom" Vulture, June 25, 2019 (update June 26, 2019)
- McPhee, Ryan (November 25, 2019). "Netflix's The Prom Movie Finds Its Emma in Jo Ellen Pellman". Playbill. Retrieved November 25, 2019.
- Lefkowitz, Andy (January 25, 2020). "You Happened! Three-Time Tony Nominee Kevin Chamberlin Joins Cast of The Prom Film". Broadway.com. Retrieved January 25, 2020.
- McPhee, Ryan (April 22, 2019). "Broadway's The Prom to Be Adapted Into a Young Adult Novel". Playbill. Retrieved June 20, 2019.
- "Broadway Musical "The Prom" Getting Queer YA Novel Adaptation | NewNowNext". www.newnownext.com. Retrieved June 20, 2019.
- http://www.washingtontimes.com, The Washington Times. "Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade airs 'first LGBTQ kiss' in parade's history". The Washington Times. Retrieved August 7, 2019.
- Henderson, Cydney. "Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade earns praise for broadcasting same-sex kiss". USA TODAY. Retrieved August 7, 2019.
- Gilchrist, Tracy E. "The Prom Makes Broadway Herstory by Ending in Actual Same-Sex Marriage". Advocate.com. Retrieved August 6, 2019.
- Lefkowitz, Andy (April 23, 2019). "Hadestown, Tootsie & Oklahoma! Lead 2019 Outer Critics Circle Award Nominations". Broadway.com. Retrieved April 23, 2019.
- Lefkowitz, Andy (April 17, 2019). "Nominations Announced for 85th Annual Drama League Awards". Broadway.com. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
- Evans, George (April 19, 2019). "'Be More Chill', 'Pretty Woman' Top Broadway's Audience Choice Awards". Broadway.com. Retrieved May 19, 2019.