What happens when four has-been actors decide to take on a social cause in a small Indiana town? A lot of laughter, a lot of drama, and a dinner at Applebee’s. The Drama Desk Award-winning “The Prom” is now playing at Cockpit in Court Summer Theatre. The musical also had a stint on Broadway and was nominated for six Tony Awards in 2019. A film version with big name stars was released in 2020.
…a feel-good musical about acceptance, growth…will keep you laughing…Get your dancing shoes on and have a good time…
The story follows the plight of Emma (Nia Chavis), a gay teenager who wants to take her girlfriend to prom. The PTA cancels the event and she faces backlash from her fellow students. When her story pops up on Twitter, four fading Broadway stars—Deedee Allen (Shannon Wollman), Barry Glickman (Darren McDonnell), Trent Oliver (Randy Dunkle), and Angie Dickinson (Coby Kay Callahan)—see Emma’s situation as a PR opportunity for them and head straight to Indiana to “help that little lesbian.”
As the foursome try to mend their images of being narcissistic and self-centered, they wreak total havoc on the small town. However, as the musical progresses, so do their characters. Barry shows a softer side as he befriends Emma and talks about how excited he would be to attend a prom. Deedee initially only cares about herself and is thrilled by the attention of Principal Hawkins (Troy Haines-Hopper), but later admits that “The Lady’s Improving.” Angie helps Emma find her inner strength as she tells her to give it some “zazz.” Trent helps the teens realize that they should “love thy neighbor” and use common sense rather than just saying that homosexuality is wrong.
But it’s Emma who’s at the heart of the story, and ironically, she’s the one who maintains her composure amidst all the craziness. All she wants to do is dance with her girlfriend, Alyssa (Julia L. Williams). But how can Alyssa come out to the world when her mom is PTA President and so against homosexuality?
You can’t help but feel for Emma (Chavis) when she finds out that the school decided to have two proms—one for Emma and one for the rest of the school. Rather than fall apart, Emma creates a video that goes viral, telling the world that “nobody out there ever gets to define the life I’m meant to lead.” Chavis shines in her role, whether that’s playing the guitar as accompaniment to her original song (“Unruly Heart”), singing with Williams in perfect harmony, or telling herself to “just breathe.”
The musical wouldn’t be complete without the amazing ensemble of teens who are constantly high energy. Their enthusiasm as they sing “Tonight Belongs to You” is infectious, their dancing is fantastic, and their “promposals” are adorable. Props go to choreographer Rachel Miller for the teens’ dance moves, including dances that highlight one cast member or another.
“The Prom” is a feel-good musical about acceptance, growth, and well, just having a good time. The show will keep you laughing—from the involvement of the non-equity actors from “Godspell” to the protest signs the Broadway stars hold with slogans like “Lez” is more’ and “Wish you were queer.” The has-been stars also have plenty of one-liners and digs about small-town Indiana. At the motel, they request a room close to the spa, they tell Emma that Haagen Dazs is fancy ice cream, and they can’t believe the only place to buy clothes is Kmart. Get your dancing shoes on and have a good time at “The Prom.”
Running Time: Two hours and 30 minutes with one intermission.
Advisory: Contains profanity.
“The Prom” runs through August 6, 2023 at Cockpit in Court Summer Theatre at CCBC Essex, 7201 Rossville Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21237.