I want to dance with you at The Prom

Reviewer: Kristine Gotham

Venue: Midland Center for the Arts

All Emma Nolan (Olivia Greanias) wants to do is go to the prom with her girlfriend, Alyssa Green (Lexie Schultz).  All former Broadway stars, Barry Glickman (Chad Baker), DeeDee Allen (Ann Lutenske), Trent Oliver (Jared Kaufman) and Angie Dickinson (Brock Ritter) want is to be back on top, the center of attention.  The story of how the lives of these six people is presented in the play, The Prom, performed at the Midland Center for the Arts. 

The show opens with a closing, on opening night, no less.  Barry, DeeDee, Trent and Angie are performing in Eleanor, a story of Eleanor Roosevelt.  The reviews are not good and the show closes.  The four actors put on their thinking caps and decide that they need a cause, something to champion, something that will bring the public’s attention back to them like it was in their glory days.  So they think…world peace?  Too big.  Famine in Africa?  Too far away and too big.  Building houses with Habitat for Humanity?  No skill.  Then Angie remembers a video that she saw on the “interwebs” of a teenage girl in a small Indiana town who is being prevented from going to prom because she is a lesbian.  This is it!  They will be champions for this girl!  They will go to this town, shine a light on the issue and get this girl and her girlfriend to the prom!  The whole world will see what a wonderful thing they are doing and they will once again be the public’s sweetheart! 

Meanwhile, in Indiana, Emma has learned from her principal, Mr. Hawkins (Ed Mata, that the Attorney General of the State of Indiana is looking into the action of the PTA, cancelling the prom rather than allow Emma and Alyssa to attend, to see if it falls under any laws regarding discrimination.  It is finally determined that the school must provide an inclusive prom for all students.  Emma and Alyssa celebrate, daydreaming about being together at the prom, dancing with one another.  DeeDee and the others arrive in town, ready to hold a rally, to have a parade, whatever they must do to bring attention to this horrible injustice that Emma is suffering.  But first, they need to see their hotel suites, there aren’t any, just regular rooms.  They need treatments at the spa, there isn’t one.  They need a cappuccino, there is a coffee maker in the room.  What kind of backward town is this?! No matter, they have arrived to help Emma with her cause.  As DeeDee states, “we’re gonna help this little lesbian, whether she likes it or not!” 

As time goes on, the actors get to know Emma.  They encourage her to be herself, to celebrate prom likt the Attorney General says she can.  Finally, the night of the prom arrives.  Emma arrives at the gym in a beautiful dress, so excited to see Alyssa and dance the night away, but she is greeted with disappointment.  Secretly, two other students and the PTA have planned a second prom, one she is not invited to attend.  Emma is heartbroken, not only by the cruelty of the other students, but also by the fact that Alyssa, cannot or will not tell her mother that she is gay and that Emma is her girlfriend. Emma cries, stating that “people got together to figure out the best way to hurt me.” 

The stars try to console Emma.  They do everything that they can, talk to everyone that they know, to get Emma’s story out to the world.  Barry has been a great support through this whole thing, even admitting that he didn’t attend his own prom when he was in school.  Angie encourages Emma to find her inner Zazz, strength and confidence, to stand up and tell her story.  While the actors want Emma to go on TV, she finds her own way and her own voice, with a video on the “interwebs” of a song that she wrote about how she feels.  The video gets thousands and then millions of hits.  Emma’s story has resonated with people from all over.  The actors ponder if there isn’t a way that Emma can have her prom.  Mr. Hawkins says that the school gym is a public space that can be rented.  Of course, everything would have to be paid for privately, since the event is not school sanctioned.  Each actor selflessly offers up what they can to make Emma’s dream a reality.  There is nothing that the PTA can do to stop this event.  While planning for the prom is underway, Trent has been out, speaking with the young people in the community, helping them to see that Emma is no different from them and it is ok to love one another.  A huge, all-inclusive prom finally happens.  Barry finally gets to attend and wear his silver tux with teal cummerbund and tie.  DeeDee can finally say with certainty that while she loves the public attention, it is nice to think of someone else.  She is not a narcissist.  Alyssa is emboldened by Emma’s public demonstration and finally tells her mother that she is also a lesbian and Emma is her girlfriend.  The final dance ends with the sentiment that to love one another trumps it all. 

This play is fun, campy and serious all at the same time.  The music and dance numbers are full of life.  The set is an outdoor stage, so set pieces need to be portable.  With minimal changes, the scenery changes to meet the scene.  The costumes are appropriate for the story.  The Prom is a thoroughly enjoyable way to spend an evening.  It is on stage at Midland Center for the Arts at 8 pm on Wed, August 2- Fri August 4, and again Wed, August 9- Fri, August 11. 


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