Casey Nicholaw is currently Broadway’s most prolific director/choreographer. He adds a fourth title to his portfolio with this joyously affectionate musical.
Like his most recent hit here Mean Girls it has a high school theme, but it’s a very different show, far more low-key. Though no Broadway show is ever exactly low budget, this show’s invests more in its characters than its sets.
As with Nicholaw’s production of The Drowsy Chaperone,this is a knowing, self-referential musical about recognisable show business types; it also shares the asset of its originality, not being based on a previous existing source.
Owing something to the Glee and Smash television franchises, it takes Broadway types and tropes on the road to a small-town Indiana community wrestling with societal change and promoting a story of lesbian acceptance.
The Prom tells the story of an American teenager who wants to take her girlfriend to the school prom, against the wishes of the school’s governors.
There are similarities to Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, though the support comes not from family as in Jamie, but from four graspingly ambitious Broadway types, trying to generate a publicity campaign of outrage on her behalf in order to promote themselves.
The stage time is more theirs than hers. A quartet of Broadway veterans play a faded diva (Beth Leavel), a chorine (Angie Schworer), who is determined to keep going long past her sell-by date, a Broadway publicist (Josh Lamon) and a Juilliard-trained actor-turned-professional waiter (Christopher Sieber). These four pull out all the comic stops – and most of the cliches too.
And though there’s much less angst in The Prom than in Fun Home, it’s heartening to see a second musical about the lesbian experience on Broadway.