Review: THE PROM at Theatre Three is a 'crowning' acheivement!

The production runs from Sep 16 - Oct 23

By: Sep. 28, 2023
Review: THE PROM at Theatre Three is a 'crowning' acheivement!

Finally, a show that is the perfect blend of comedy and heart. A show that will have you grab your stomach with great belly laughs. A show that will have you grab your chest when it breaks your heart with raw emotion pertaining to the universal theme of acceptance. That is the genius of The Prom, which can currently be seen at Theatre Three in Port Jefferson.

The Prom begins at the opening night of Eleanor! The Eleanor Roosevelt Story, where its self-obsessed stars Dee Dee Allen and Barry Glickman are celebrating how their star turns in this “important” musical is most definitely changing lives. After the show opens to dismissal reviews, Eleanor! closes on opening night a la Glory Days, the most recent Broadway show to close on opening night. Dee Dee and Barry’s press agent Sheldon explains to them that they just aren’t likable. “Nobody likes a narcissist!”….ya hear that AMERICA! To improve their image, Dee Dee and Barry decide to become celebrity activists. Joined by Fosse dancer Angie Dickinson (wink-wink) and Julliard-alum sitcom star Trent Oliver, they find trending on X (formally known as Twitter…don’t get me started), a news story about a high school in Indiana that is considering canceling the prom all because a lesbian student named Emma wants to attend with her girlfriend. The Broadway stars pack their bag and head to Indiana to protest and undo this civil injustice.

Sadly, this show is based on actual events. While there are many instances in history that could be considered source material (i.e. Fricke vs. Lynch (1980)), the show is based on the true story of Constance McMillen of Mississippi. In 2010, the school board of Itawamba County Agricultural High School would not allow McMillen to attend the prom with her girlfriend nor allow her to wear a tuxedo. The PTA of the school also believed in segregating straight and LGBTQIA+ students. McMillen sued the school district and her case was taken on by the ACLU. The federal court found in favor of McMillen, awarding her $35,000 in damages and also ensured that a non-discrimination policy would be put into effect immediately at the school district. As writer/philosopher Frances Wright said “Equality is the soul of liberty; there is, in fact, no liberty without it.” 

While the show does have its share of drama, it is predominantly a musical comedy and the laughs abound. The jokes are grounded in structure and are very witty. Theater fans will also truly appreciate the truckload of easter eggs featured throughout the show. The hilarious book by Bob Martin and Chad Begulin and infectious musical score by Matthew Sklar and Beguelin is joyous. Jeffrey Sanzel once again directs another triumphant production. Josie McSwain’s choreography is contagious and you will want to jump up on stage and join the fun. Randall Parsons’s set will make you feel nostalgic; his use of a wall of sliding doors was genius. In addition to an amazing crew, Jeffrey Sanzel once again expertly selected an A+ ensemble of actors that each shine.

Leading the cast in the role of Emma is the phenomenal Jae Hughes. I last saw Hughes in Theatre Three’s most recent production of Something Rotten! where they stole the show and succeeds in doing so once again. As Emma, Hughes wears their heart on their sleeve; you feel Hughes’s raw emotion emoted in every bit of dialogue and they will send chills down your spine with their moving rendition of “Unruly Heart”. You really feel the love and connection between Hughes’s Emma and Jillian Sharpe’s Alyssa Green; like Hughes, Sharpe is in top form here. Also gracing the stage after starring in Theatre Three’s Something Rotten! is Ryan Nolin who is a laugh out loud riot as Barry Glickman and gives another star-making performance. Playing the role of Angie Dickinson is the fantastic Sari Feldman. I had the honor of seeing Feldman as The Narrator in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (at Theatre Three). Once again, Feldman has the audience eating right out of her hand; she is the living definition of “Zazz”. Brian Gill was perfectly charismatic as Trent Oliver; he stopped the show with his two big musical numbers, “The Acceptance Song” and “Love Thy Neighbor”. As Dee Dee Allen, Linda May is dynamic, delightful and puts a capital D in Diva.

Dennis Creighton reprises his role of Mr. Hawkins from the Long Island premiere of The Prom at CMPAC. Creighton plays the role with such warmth and heart; it’s nice seeing a principal put a student’s needs before workplace politics. Jason Allyn serves double duty as press agent Sheldon and also was one of the costume designers alongside Joe Kassner; Allyn and Kassner’s  costumes were perfection and was a an homage to the Broadway production and film version. Rounding out the cast is Tamralynn Dorsa as Mrs. Greene, Alyssa’s conservative, single mother and president of the PTA. Dorsa is brilliantly intimidating and easily brings out the audience’s frustration with her character’s beliefs. Interestingly enough, Dorsa doesn’t play the character as a villain. Mrs. Greene is not a villain; she’s a mother that loves her daughter who has made terrible choices. As Shakespeare said, “Ignorance is the curse of God; knowledge is the wing wherewith we fly to heaven.” Mrs. Greene needs to just expand her knowledge that’s all. Well played, TamraLynn Dorsa.

The Prom is a really great time! It will make you laugh, cry, sometimes at the same time. During intermission, I overheard an audience member near me say, “The choreography is great. The music is nice. It’s a fun show with very important themes.” It’s a satire that deals with contemporary politics and emphasizes the importance of inclusion. In her bio, Jillian Sharpe quotes Elliot Page, “We deserve to experience love fully, equally, without shame and without compromise.” Ladies and gentleman,  experience the love of The Prom and share its message.

You can see The Prom at Theater Three in Port Jefferson through October 23, 2023. Rounding out Theater Three’s 2023-2024 season is: A Christmas Carol (Nov 11-Dec 30, 2023), The Gin Game (Jan 13-Feb 3 2024), tick…tick…boom! (Feb 17-Mar 16, 2024), Murder on the Orient Express (Apr 6 – May 4, 2024) & The Producers (May 18 – Jun 24, 2024).

Also back by popular demand, playing at Theater Three’s Second Stage is Every Brilliant Thing. You can read my review of that show here: /long-island/article/Review-Theatre-Threes-EVERY-BRILLIANT-THING-is-sheer-brilliance-20220724

You can purchase tickets to The Prom and all of Theater Three’s upcoming shows here:  Click Here

Review: THE PROM at Theatre Three is a 'crowning' acheivement!
(c l-r Ryan Nolin, Sari Feldman, Linda May, Brian Gill (front center), Ensemble
Photo credit by Steven Uihlein
Review: THE PROM at Theatre Three is a 'crowning' acheivement!
Jae Hughes
Photo credit by Steven Uihlein
Review: THE PROM at Theatre Three is a 'crowning' acheivement!
Ryan Nolin
Photo credit by Steven Uihlein
Review: THE PROM at Theatre Three is a 'crowning' acheivement!
(l-r) Sari Feldman, Ryan Nolin, Linda May
Photo credit by Steven Uihlein
Review: THE PROM at Theatre Three is a 'crowning' acheivement!
Brian Gill (center) & Ensemble
Photo credit by Steven Uihlein
Review: THE PROM at Theatre Three is a 'crowning' acheivement!
Jillian Sharpe & Jae Hughes
Photo credit by Steven Uihlein
Review: THE PROM at Theatre Three is a 'crowning' acheivement!
Ensemble
Photo credit by Steven Uihlein

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