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Review Roundup: Did Critics Have A Night To Remember At THE PROM?

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The Prom

The new musical The Prom officially opens on Broadway tonight at Broadway's Longacre Theatre!

We've got trouble, folks, right here in Indiana and when Broadway's brassiest hear a student is unceremoniously sidelined from a small-town Indiana prom - and the press is involved - they are ready to kick-ball-change the world. A new musical comedy about the power of love (and a good 11 o'clock number), The Prom is about so much more than just a dance.

THE PROM stars Tony Award Nominee Brooks Ashmanskas (Something Rotten!), Tony Award Winner Beth Leavel (The Drowsy Chaperone), two-time Tony Award Nominee Christopher Sieber (Shrek the Musical), Caitlin Kinnunen (Bridges of Madison County), Isabelle McCalla (Aladdin), Michael Potts (The Iceman Cometh), Angie Schworer (The Producers), Courtenay Collins (Broadway Debut) and Josh Lamon (Groundhog Day).

Let's see what the critics had to say!


Jesse Green, The New York Times: The Prom begins when a theater critic for The New York Times writes a pan so poisonous that the show he's reviewing dies on the spot. That's ridiculous. It could never happen. At any rate, it won't happen now, because "The Prom," which opened on Thursday at the Longacre Theater, is such a joyful hoot. With its kinetic dancing, broad mugging and belty anthems, it makes you believe in musical comedy again.

Michael Dale, BroadwayWorld: And along with all the laughter, there's a great deal of feeling in The Prom, a musical that helps prove there's no better spectacle on Broadway than inspired writing, terrific melodies, big enthusiastic performances and a production loaded with honest-to-goodness heart.

David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter: The legitimately funny book is co-written by Bob Martin, who won a Tony Award (as did Leavel) for his work in the same capacity on The Drowsy Chaperone; and Chad Beguelin, who penned Disney's Aladdin, another Nicholaw musical. The two-pronged score, which has distinct styles for the Hoosier teens and the Manhattanite interlopers, is by composer Matthew Sklar, with clever lyrics by Beguelin; the two last teamed on yet another Nicholaw show, Elf. Any musical that makes it to Broadway these days without a familiar movie source or a popular jukebox score is an achievement, so this original story is a rainbow unicorn that wins points right there.

Terry Teachout, Wall Street Journal: The Prom will make you laugh-I can't remember the last time I laughed so hard at a new musical-and it will also fill you with the toasty-warm glow of unchallenged righteousness. That's a surprising combination, especially nowadays.

Robert Hofler, TheWrap: The good news is that these four Broadway losers score: Angie Schworer is the merry epitome of every second-rate Roxie Hart, only leggier. Christopher Sieber makes us believe that Juilliard, indeed, was his career high point - and he's proud of it. Beth Leavel offers an uproarious glimpse of what Liza Minnelli would be if she'd continued performing. And Brooks Ashmanskas somehow manages to be even gayer on stage than ever before.

Frank Rizzo, Variety: This original musical has laughs, tears and joy - not to mention jaw-dropping star-turns - in a clash-of-cultures hoot that earns a big Broadway corsage. It seems like a dubious musical mash-up: Broadway narcissists-turned-activists take over a middle-American town to help a lesbian teen who just wants to bring her date to the prom. But with a tuneful score, a playful book, and performances that remind you what Broadway heart and chutzpah are all about, this cause celebre of a show turns out to be a joyous, funny, and sweet production that should appeal to several generations of musical fans.

J. Kelly Nestruck, The Globe and Mail: The first scenes of The Prom, a new Broadway musical comedy that makes gleeful fun of Broadway performers, are as deliriously funny as any musical of recent vintage. Of course, satirizing the world of Broadway is right in the wheelhouse of the show's co-creator Bob Martin, the Canadian Tony-winning librettist best known for The Drowsy Chaperone.

Adam Feldman, Time Out New York: Though it teases Broadway, The Prom has the appealing scrappiness of a party thrown by the theater community for itself, and nowhere is this celebration more joyous than in the deliciously hammy performances of its two seasoned stars, who take over-the-top to dizzying heights. The hilarious Ashmanskas never seems more than a hop, skip and jump away from actually hopping, skipping and jumping, and Leavel churns her big number, a pastiche called "The Lady's Improving," into pure showtune butter. It's not the show: It's them. They're lovable.

Tim Teeman, The Daily Beast: This slice of The Prom, directed (and sparklingly choreographed) by Casey Nicholaw, is a fun surf through actorly vanity and ego: the stars are not monsters but opportunists, and it just so happens that this opportunism intersects with a belief in equality they all share

Greg Evans, Deadline: As the full-of-themselves hoofers and belters, Beth Leavel, Brooks Ashmanskas, Christopher Sieber and Angie Schworer, along with their more spirited than effective publicist, played by Josh Lamon, chew the scenery to great delight, descending on small town America like bedazzled locusts. Their big numbers - "Changing Lives," "It's Not About Me," "The Lady's Improving" - show just the hoped-for levels of All About Eve level self-satisfaction anyone could want.

David Cote, Observer: Had The Prom's creative team-book writers Bob Martin and Chad Beguelin and composer Matthew Sklar-limited the frame to this story of intolerance and resistance, it would be spinachly worthy and Trumpily relevant. But they wrap an outrageous showbiz satire around the earnest center, and the result is the perfect blend of salt and sweet. The tag line: Broadway Boomers try to save prom for a millennial lesbian who is totally embarrassed by them. A good premise executed well is the formula that wins here.

Sara Holdren, Vulture: Its trajectory is familiar: Benighted would-be heroes gallop in to save the day, make a mess, discover their actual moral centers in the process, fess up to their initial selfishness, and then we all sing, dance, and love one another a little better. But its tone is fresh and zingy, its characters genuinely laughable and lovable - in part because the performers playing the Broadway babies are smartly poking fun at themselves.

Chris Jones, The NY Daily News: Good luck, Emma, you think. And you'll need the sense of humor that nobody bothered to write for you. But you're still laughing much of the time at the generally witty book and, for sure, enjoying Nicholaw's truly eye-popping explorations of how youthful dance can be a unifying force across our great political gulf.

Elysa Gardner, New York Stage Review: Indeed, it's hard to imagine a show fueled by more extravagant good will than Prom, which Nicholaw put together with old friends and collaborators Chad Beguelin, Bob Martin and Matthew Sklar, with Martin and Beguelin co-writing the book and the latter crafting lyrics for Sklar's music. They devised the show in part as a vehicle for a group of veteran performers whose talents are well-known among theater fans, including Brooks Ashmanskas, Beth Leavel and Christopher Sieber.

Michael Sommers, New York Stage Review: Everyone gamely and capably projects their characters, especially Leavel and Ashmanskas, who probably spit out nails after chewing so much scenery in their outsized roles as Dee Dee and Barry. Their fearlessly over-the-top performances, along with an assortment of showbiz gags in the amusing script and Beguelin's lyrics, propelled by Sklar's mostly upbeat tunes and plenty of fast-moving flurries of athletic dancing choreographed by Nicholaw, represent Broadway musical comedy in full-flowered frivolity.

Matt Windman, amNY: Many important social issues - inclusion, arts education, community outreach - get run over by lame humor, underwhelming songs and ultra-hammy performances in this original musical, which is so flimsy, tacky and amateurish that it leaves you wondering how it got to Broadway in the first place.

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