Review: THE PROM at The Community Players

This invigorating production runs through April 21st

By: Apr. 17, 2024
Review: THE PROM at The Community Players
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The Community Players concludes its 102nd season on the highest of notes with its energetic, spirited, emotionally charged production of the musical comedy, ‘The Prom.’

With music and lyrics by Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin, ‘The Prom’ premiered on Broadway in 2018 and was nominated for seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Ryan Murphy directed the 2020 Netflix movie version starring Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, and Ariana DeBose.

Masterfully directed by Christopher Margadonna and exquisitely choreographed by Julia Gillis, ‘The Prom’ is about four washed-up Broadway performers—Dee Dee (Jennifer Gillis), Barry (Mitchell Burns), Trent (Greg Gillis), and Angie (Giana Manzi-Hiniker)—who travel to smalltown Indiana under the guise of voicing their outrage over a lesbian girl, Emma (Kylie Chartier), prohibited from attending her high school prom, when in fact they are selfishly seeking publicity to improve their image and help bring their careers back from the dead.

Not surprisingly, the fearless foursome arrives in Edgewater mostly unrecognized—except for former sitcom star, Trent—and unwelcome by the townspeople. Nevertheless, they manage to join forces with the high school’s principal, Mr. Hawkins (Michael Évora), Emma’s strongest ally and a huge fan of Dee Dee’s. Unbeknownst to them, Mrs. Greene (Nancy Kimble), the uber-conservative head of the PTA, has concocted her own secret scheme to prevent Emma’s inclusion, much to the chagrin of her daughter, Alyssa (Kathryn Kimble), who also happens to be Emma’s closeted girlfriend.

The ensuing calamity and hilarity results in a comical, heartfelt adventure, not just for Emma and the Edgewater folks, but especially for the visitors from New York, and it turns out Indiana may not be as stereotypically closeminded, while the big city entertainers are less narcissistic than they originally presented themselves to be.

As the story unfolds, the production is chock full of catchy songs and exhilarating dance routines that showcase the impressive talent of the cast and help the audience fall head-over-heels in love with the characters. Highlights include Emma and Alyssa’s tender duet, “Dance with You,” the elated, charming Barry’s musing, “Barry Is Going to Prom,” and Trent’s cagey, admonitory anthem, “Love Thy Neighbor.” Angie and Dee Dee, accompanied by the ensemble, deliver veritable showstoppers respectively in the Bob Fosse-infused, “Zazz,” and the impassioned, declarative, “The Lady’s Improving.”

Chartier gives an overwhelmingly endearing performance as Emma, and her scenes with Burns, who shines brightly and earnestly as the adorably anxious Barry, are particularly touching. Manzi-Hiniker shows sophistication and sensitivity as Angie, and Greg Gillis is unfailingly amusing as the amiable Trent. Jennifer Gillis is simply magnificent as the unapologetic egotist turned altruistic heroine, Dee Dee, and her interplay with Évora is sentimental and profound.

‘The Prom’ is an uplifting, inspiring story about self-acceptance and learning to acknowledge and embrace each other’s differences. The Community Players’ production delivers that timeless message with style, zest, and above all, heart.

‘The Prom’ runs through April 21st at Jenks Auditorium, 350 Division Street in Pawtucket. For tickets and information, call 401-726-6860 or visit

Photo by Bob Emerson


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