REVIEW: Plenty of glitz, humor, and charm in SpeakEasy Stage’s ‘The Prom’
It’s just so nice to be invited back to a Prom and not be the one in a frilly dress.
Though costume designer Miranda Kau Giurleo does bring all the glitz, glitter and glamour to this satirical blend of inspired true story and over the top musical comedy set in New York as well as in Edgewater, Indiana. SpeakEasy Stage Company’s The Prom delivers plenty of humor ranging from silly to parody to satirical not without its political ribbings with a sincere and underlying message about helping others.
Featuring stellar and intricate choreography by Taavon Gamble and lightheartedly directed by Paul Daigneault, SpeakEasy Stage Company continues musical comedy The Prom through June 10 live and in person at the Calderwood Pavilion in Boston Massachusetts. The show is two hours and 25 minutes with one 15 minute intermission. Click here for more information and tickets.
The Prom should sound a least a little familiar since its 2020 Netflix film adaptation debut with an abundance of its own star shine including Meryl Streep as Dee Dee and James Corden as Barry. Inspired by a true story, anxious Emma, depicted with self effacing and quiet optimism by Liesie Kelly, invites a date to the Prom with none other than Abriel Coleman as Alyssa, the daughter of the head of the Parent Teacher Association. Once a group of egocentric Broadway celebrities gets wind of this human interest story, they decide to make a difference in this small Indiana town.
Lit with soft and cheerful pastels by Karen Perlow, The Prom features a flashy and dynamic set design including checkered red carpet doubling for any high school setting. One of the stage highlights is a chameleon-like, glittering backdrop complete with shimmering disco ball and an onstage orchestra hidden behind a sports scoreboard.
The Prom is helmed by a strong and exuberant cast with exceptional comedic timing. Dynamite duo Barry Glickman and Dee Dee, portrayed with pizzazz by Johnny Kuntz and Mary Callanan, deliver lots of laughs as seemingly shallow thespians, but their real charm is exposed by the people they meet in this fish out of water production. Their wild antics and Callanan’s fantastic belt are on spectacular display for fist pumping and humorous Changing Lives. Adorned with glamorous red hair, Callanan shines in the commanding and infectious solo It’s Not About Me and has lively and fun loving chemistry with Anthony Pires Jr as compassionate and forthright Mr. Hawkins. Pires Jr adds a shy charisma to the role and his scenes with Emma and Dee Dee are touching and memorable especially for the sweet solo, We Look to You.
Meagan Lewis-Michelson as no nonsense PR rep Sheldon Saperstein and inspirational Lisa Yuen as Angie Dickenson both have their great comedic moments, but Jared Troilo is a bit of a scene stealer hatching outrageous theatrical schemes to unique pronunciations as aspiring actor Trent Oliver. Troilo’s character could have easily become obnoxious as the show progressed, but Troilo’s Trent remained endearing at every turn. Though Troilo is wonderful in every number, perhaps the cheeky Love Thy Neighbor is the most noteworthy fueled by surprising musical accompaniment and gospel influences.
The Prom deals with some serious topics including betrayal, but balances it well with the show’s overall optimistic tone. It is positive throughout, even in the face of Emma’s most difficult challenges. Liesie Kelly’s lovely Just Breathe mixes dry wit with Kelly’s mellifluous vocals and smiling eyes. Emma’s high school classmates are painted as shallow and insensitive and as far as storytelling, it might have been nice to have at least one of them sympathetic to Emma’s plight from the start.
Boasting amazing choreography that not only is reminiscent of popular musicals Footloose and Hairspray, but The Prom contains a wealth of welcome, inside Broadway references. From a clapping and celebratory champagne dance to the Fosse-inspired choreography of Zazz to the intricate chorography of It’s Time to Dance, Gamble with Paul S. Katz’s music direction creates a complex yet sparkling escape to fun and frivolity if only temporarily from the realities of life.
SpeakEasy Stage Company continues musical comedy The Prom through June 10 live and in person at the Calderwood Pavilion in Boston Massachusetts. Click here for more information and tickets.