By Gabrielle Young, Marketing Intern
“With a tuneful score, a playful book, and performances that remind you what Broadway heart and chutzpah are all about, this cause of a show turns out to be a joyous, funny, and sweet production that should appeal to several generations of musical fans,” Frank Rizzo from Variety raves. THE PROM is a show for everyone pairing musical comedy and satirical commentary with tenderness and cultural relevance. Premiering in Atlanta in 2016, this musical with music by Matthew Sklar, lyrics by Chad Beguelin, and a book by Bob Martin and Beguelin, opened on Broadway in November 2018 and was followed by a film adaption produced by Netflix in 2020.
THE PROM follows four washed-up Broadway actors attempting to earn themselves some much-needed good press to Edgewater, Indiana, as they join forces with a courageous girl who just wants to bring her girlfriend to prom. The town’s parents want to keep the high school dance on the straight and narrow—but when the PTA cancels the prom, the entire town has a date with destiny, and the result is love that brings them all together.
If this sounds vaguely familiar, it is because the creators of THE PROM, Martin and Beguelin, began writing the musical in 2010 after Itawamba Agricultural High School in Fulton, Mississippi, denied the request of high schooler, Constance McMillen, to wear a suit and bring her girlfriend to prom. However, the creators feared that the show would not make the same impact after same-sex marriage was legalized in 2015, LQBTQIA+ rights seemed to be more protected, and the threat of homophobia didn’t seem as urgent. Following the presidential election in 2016, LGBTQIA+ rights were being threatened, and the story seemed more important than ever. The message of acceptance and learning to listen felt desperately important to the creatives behind THE PROM.
Luckily, the message was and is received by audiences. People approach the actors at stage doors about how the show has opened their minds. Parents say that it has helped them understand their kids better. LGTBQIA+ students say that they feel seen or heard for the first time. In a poignant moment when the show first opened, Beguelin recalled, “In a talkback after one of the performances in Atlanta, an older gentleman raised his hand and said, ‘If I knew what this show was about, I never would have come. But you know what? I’m glad I did, and I’m glad those two girls got together in the end.’”
THE PROM’s cultural significance speaks for itself. It offers up multiple different looks at queer characters for audiences to get to know, and as Stephen Daw with Billboard Music writes, “It is exactly the kind of show that young men and women everywhere should see. It doesn’t pander to or patronize them by having the adults swoop in to save the day; it shows that even when you don’t feel like it, young LGBTQ people do have the power to flip the narrative, use their voice and make meaningful change in their community.”
THE PROM expertly captures all the humor and heart of a classic musical comedy with a message that resonates with audiences now more than ever. Receiving the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical, seven Tony Award nominations, and New York Times Critics Pick, THE PROM is a must see.