THE Prom provides heartfelt musical theater comedy for musical theater enthusiasts. With a lot of theater in-jokes, hijinks, major ensemble dance numbers, and a mix of amusing and saccharine, composer Matthew Sklar, lyricist Chad Beguelin, and co-book writers Beguelin and Bob Martin fully grasp the components for an entertaining modern day musical. Though THE Prom challenging-main wears its coronary heart on its sleeve, it can be also so pleasurable. THE Promenade is not fearful to embrace its id as a “truly feel-excellent” musical, but you will find ample originality and winks at the viewers in the tale to counteract the times that veer in the direction of maudlin. It’s the form of major, jazzy musical theater pleasure that I’ve so skipped, and therefore, this tour has landed in Chicago at just the suitable time.
THE Promenade opens with vapid, narcissistic Broadway actors Dee Dee Allen (Courtney Balan) and Barry Glickman (Patrick Wetzel) at the opening evening celebration of their unwell-fated new bio musical about Eleanor Roosevelt (and of course, it features a hip hop quantity). When THE NEW YORK Periods theater critic documents a evaluation that definitely eviscerates the display, Dee Dee and Barry choose they have to arrive up with a scheme to retain relevance and occur out on top. The alternative? Grow to be movie star activists. Dee Dee and Barry gather up their mates Angie (Emily Borromeo), fatigued following twenty yrs in the chorus of CHICAGO, and Trent Oliver (Bud Weber), a waiter concerning performing gigs who peppers every single conversation with mentions of his time at Julliard, and established out to uncover a result in. They settle on touring to Edgewater, Indiana, exactly where they will aid 17-yr-outdated Emma, who needs nothing at all much more than to just take her girlfriend to prom-in spite of the outrage of PTA head Mrs. Greene (Ashanti J’Aria) and other town mom and dad, and at the scorn of her classmates.
Thus, THE Promenade concurrently satirizes the trappings of celebrity and the theater life, when also offering an earnest information of acceptance and an assault on homophobia. Delightfully, THE Promenade generally succeeds in intertwining these two distinctive narratives and tones. Dee Dee, Barry, Trent, and Angie all have outsized, delectable musical numbers that exude pizzazz. In the meantime, Emma and her girlfriend Alyssa Greene have sweet, straightforward music. It truly is a wise way to set up the contrast, even if it means that Emma and Alyssa-whilst charming people-are fairly underdeveloped. And though we master that Emma’s mom and dad have kicked her out of the home, she’s fairly self-confident and very well-modified all points considered. Her solo quantities “Just Breathe” and “Unruly Coronary heart,” though ripe with possibilities for identification from viewers members, are not rooted in a great deal specificity. Likewise, Emma and Alyssa’s duet “Dance With You” has a purity of spirit, but once more, isn’t going to essentially drill down into specifics. Alyssa’s titular solo is a sincere exploration of the strain she feels to be excellent even though it’s a common topic, Kalyn West’s psychological shipping sells the emotional arc of the track. Although Emma and Alyssa on the complete do not have the most dynamic musical figures, Kaden Kearney and West turn out charming performances in the roles.
The 4 celebrity activists, even so, have some imaginative and playful numbers. When the quartet arrives in Edgewater, Dee Dee announces her existence with the inflated “It can be Not About Me.” Balan tends to make the number a genuine self-centered show. And even even though Dee Dee is incessantly selfish, Balan nonetheless finds a way to make her sympathetic-specially immediately after she catches the eye of substantial faculty principal Mr. Hawkins (Sinclar Mitchell), who transpires to be a lover of her function. Angie has the delightful act two opener “Zazz,” a Fosse-impressed amount in which she encourages Emma to go ahead with self-confidence. Borromeo provides the range the razzle dazzle (phrasing meant) it desires to succeed. Wetzel plays Barry as flamboyant and totally more than-the-prime, but would make it all ring legitimate. His solo “Barry is Going to Promenade” entertains and lends pathos to the character. Trent has my favorite solo number of the whole quartet-the spectacular “Like Thy Neighbor.” He meets some of Emma’s classmates and teaches them a detail or two about the serious contents of the Bible and what acceptance seriously signifies. It’s a hilarious amount, and Weber smashes it.
Casey Nicholaw directs and choreographs THE Prom, and it is apparent. The ensemble dance numbers are joyful, massive, and energizing, peppered with Nicholaw’s signature jumps and significant kicks. As with some of his past function, Nicholaw also liberally employs right here what I like to contact “dancing with props.” Just as the teenagers in Indicate Women tap danced with cafeteria trays, the dancers use props ranging from recorders to tambourines in THE Prom.
The output style for THE Prom is equally glitzy. Ann Roth and Matthew Pachtman’s vivid costumes have lots of tongue-in-cheek touches and take care of properly the functional criteria of this dance-weighty demonstrate (if only I could have worn sequined sneakers to the promenade!) Scott Pask’s scenic layout has that squeaky clean sheen of fashionable musicals, but it elegantly conveys a extensive array of locations.
When THE Prom is pleasurable and heartfelt, you can find a couple figures that could easily be cut from the show. The promposal-centered “You Took place” will not have sentiments that ring real for substantial school pupils it truly is much too lovey dovey and doesn’t include to the narrative. Similarly, even though I adored Mr. Hawkins’s solo “We Seem to You,” about the joys of live theater, when I saw THE Prom movie adaptation in 2020, the ballad feels sluggish and sludgy in the context of the phase demonstrate. Mitchell performs the tune properly, but it slows the rate in a present that for the most section moves together rapidly.
THE PROM’s blend of musical theater showmanship, insider satire, and overt heartfelt nature entirely sparks joy. If you are lacking musical theater comedy and want to just embrace the artwork kind for all the pleasurable it can deliver, lace up your sequined sneakers and head to THE Prom.
The nationwide tour of THE Promenade plays Broadway In Chicago’s Cadillac Palace Theatre (151 West Randolph) through April 24, 2022. Tickets are $31-$82. Check out BroadwayInChicago.com.
Picture Credit history: Deen Van Meer
Evaluation by Rachel Weinberg