Here’s the bad news: Tuesday night’s performance of “The Prom” was plagued with sound problems from the start.
Here’s the good news: Despite that, “The Prom” is a flat-out fun and entertaining show.
Let’s talk about the show. It opens with a post-show Broadway celebration. Dee Dee Allen (Courtney Balan) and Barry Glickman (Patrick Wetzel) have just opened “Eleanor the Musical,” the life story of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt set to music. Both are award-winning but aging stars who are confident this show will put them back in the spotlight.
The New York Times disagrees, and its negative review shuts down the show.
What to do? Teaming up with Trent Oliver (Bud Weber), a between-shows actor who’s working as a waiter at the post-show party, and Angie (Emily Borromeo), a dancer who’s always in the ensemble and never a starring role, the group decides to adopt as their cause a lesbian in Edgewater, Indiana who’s been denied admittance to her high school prom because she wants her girlfriend to be her date.
Move to Edgewater, where the high school’s PTA is meeting with parents and students to discuss the prom situation. We meet Emma (Kaden Kearney), the young woman at the center of the controversy, and it’s clear most everyone in that gym is not a fan of hers. In burst the “liberal Democrats from Broadway,” wearing “We Are Lesbians” t-shirts and carrying banners that read “No More Mister Nice Gay,” “Wish You Were Queer” and “Lez is More.”
What follows is a lot of growth. On Emma’s part, on the part of the Broadway crew, and on the part of the townspeople. You can probably figure out what happens in the end. I’m not going to spoil it.
Now let’s talk about the technical issues. Prior to the show’s start, there was a machine-gun-like extended burst of static from the speakers. It stopped before the show started, but it was clear the microphones weren’t quite right. It was virtually impossible to hear anyone singing in the opening number. It sounded like the music was too loud, but only because the microphones weren’t loud enough.
Throughout the first act, some microphones were better than others, but most had some issues.
In the middle of the second act, while Kalyn West was singing “Alyssa Greene,” the staccato static returned. To West’s credit, she finished the song and scene, all while the static blared. She left the stage to thunderous well-deserved applause.
The show’s curtain came down, and we sat through a second 40-minute intermission. When the curtain rose again, we were all grateful that West was allowed to do the scene and song over, and she was spectacular. Again, she exited to thunderous applause. Call her the star of the night.
Okay, back to the show. It’s extremely witty (when you can hear the lines). And there are some terrific songs, especially in the second act. Borromeo is superb in “Zazz,” where she’s giving Emma lessons on strutting her stuff. Weber is outstanding in my favorite song, “Love They Neighbor,” where he’s appealing to the kids of the town not to cherry-pick Biblical rules. And Kearney brings down the house with her performance of “Unruly Heart.”
There’s a lot of glitz, a lot of glitter, and a lot of fun in “The Prom.”
Hopefully, the sound issues are solved for good, which will allow you to fully enjoy and appreciate the show.
The Prom is presented at the Providence Performing Arts Center through Sunday. For tickets and information, call the box office at 401.421.ARTS or visit www.ppacri.org.
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