The touring production of “The Prom” at Playhouse Square is a fantastical date




It’s Brash...Brassy...Boisterous...And Totally Broadway. The touring production of the Broadway hit “The Prom” has landed in the Connor Palace Theatre at Playhouse Square.

At the opening night party for “Eleanor!” (a biography of Eleanor Roosevelt) divas Dee Dee Allen (Courtney Balan) and Barry Glickman (Patrick Wetzel) are stunned when the Times effectively closes their one performance show with a scathing review (“...save your money on a ticket and instead buy a rope to hang yourself.”). Their publicist, Sheldon Saperstein (Shavey Brown) lowers the boom even further by pronouncing. “It’s not the show...it’s you two. You’re not likable.”

The pair is soon joined by “Julliard Trained” actor/waiter Trent Oliver (Bud Weber) and perennial chorus girl Angie (Emily Borromeo) as the foursome tries to find a high profile yet low risk “cause” to champion in order to restart their declining careers. Angie comes across an internet post concerning Emma (Kaden Kearney), a lesbian high school student in the depressed town of Edgewater, Indiana who has been barred from bringing her girl friend, Alyssa (Kalyn West) to the school’s prom. Barry immediately jumps on this cause because, as he puts it, he is “as gay as a bucket of wigs.”

Trent manages to get himself and the four newly fired up activists on the bus with the traveling company of “God Spell” that just happens to conveniently have a stop in that very town in rural Indiana. Playing to the press, the marauding celebrity activists come on strong in their attempts to bulldoze the town’s homophobic PTA president, Mrs. Green (Ashanti J’Aria) and the town’s citizens. In spite of the initial resistance the four strangers find a friend in the form of high school principle Mr. Hawkins (Sinclair Mitchell) who happens to be a big fan of Dee Dee. As a final telling gesture the town’s parents secretly vote to hold a second prom at a secret location that neither Emma or her girl friend are privy to.

There is nothing subtle about this production. Everything is taken delightfully to the next level and beyond. There is more ham in this show than can be found on an Easter dinner platter and it is all done for laughs. The musical numbers choreographed by Casey Nicholaw (who also Directs) are dynamic ensemble pieces straight out of the “golden age.” Along with the fun there is a serious message of tolerance and inclusion that hopefully touched some hearts in the audience.

The show features Music by Matthew Sklar, Lyrics by Chad Begulin and Book by Bob Martin and Chad Begulin with Costumes by Ann Roth and Matthew Pachtman. Sound design is by Brian Ronan and Lighting is done by Natasha Katz.

As for the cast, they are phenomenal. Of special note, Courtney Balan as Dee Dee and Patrick Wetzel as Barry are perfect for their roles. They literally thrown themselves into their characters putting all of their energies into the parts. Kaden Kearney as Emma is the tiny girl with the huge voice who belts out a number of show stopping songs. The songs themselves dovetail neatly into the story line and actually add to the experience rather than detract. Sinclair Mitchell as Mr. Hawkins is “the voice of reason” giving the show a moral tone without being a bummer. Bud Weber and Emily Borromeo truly round out the cast with great support and musical numbers. The ensemble of dancers are in perfect sync and fill the stage with masterful footwork.

This show is what Broadway is all about. It is a fast moving larger than life representation of current events with music and dance taking it to the entertaining outer limits. While a scant few patrons will be offended by the lesbian themed story line, thousands more will leap to their feet and cheer during the final curtain call. If you are a fan of traditional Broadway musicals you must see this show.

The touring production of “The Prom” will be in the Connor Palace Theater at Playhouse Square in Cleveland, Ohio through November 21, 2021. For more information or tickets go to https://www.playhousesquare.org/events/detail/the-prom or call (216) 241-6000.

For current information on the theater’s Covid policy go to https://www.playhousesquare.org/plan-your-visit-main/health-safety

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Who is Mark Horning?

Over the course of my life I have worked a variety of jobs including newspapers, retail camera sales and photography. Eight years ago I embarked on yet another career as writer. This included articles concerning sports and cultural events in Cleveland, Ohio as well reviews of the many theatrical productions around town. These days are spent photographing professional dance groups, theater companies and various galas and festivals as well as attending various stage performances and posting reviews about them.