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Review: THE PROM at Golden Gate Theatre

Onstage with now thru July 17

Review: THE PROM at Golden Gate Theatre

The Prom is happening at San Francisco's Golden Gate theater now through July 27 and it is a not-to-be-missed tuneful, dance-filled blast! And the best part is that you don't have to wait to be asked to go. With its focus on lesbian teen Emma (the delightfully sincere Kaden Kearney, they/them), who's made headlines across the country for not being allowed to attend with a girl, The Prom is the perfect musical to experience during Pride Month and beyond in the City.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. When a rag-tag troupe of B-List Broadway stars (who are just barely holding onto that 2nd tier status), get panned by critics on opening night of Eleanor, their musical-flop - they come up with an audacious publicity stunt, sure to keep themselves in the headlines - becoming celebrity activists. They quickly light upon Emma's gay-rights dilemma and head to the heartland to save the day - or rather, the gay.

Hitching a ride with actor/cater-waiter Trent (Bud Weber, he/him, dazzles) on his non-Equity Godspell company bus are diva Dee Dee Allen (deliciously over-the-top Courtney Balan, she/her), Barry Glickman (hilarious Patrick Wetzel plays gay Barry to perfection, he/him) and the always-overlooked-for the-lead, Angie (the talented Emily Borromeo, she/her) as well as the long-suffering press agent Sheldon Saperstein (the spot-on Shavey Brown, he/him).

Kearney's Emma is at first overwhelmed by the "help" from the New Yorkers. She doesn't want to be a cause celebre. It's hard enough being a lesbian in Indiana and what's worse, her girlfriend Alyssa (Kaylyn West, she/her, shines) isn't out to her homophobic PTA mom, Mrs. Greene (Ashanti J'Aria, she/her, is the perfect foil as the Midwestern conservative).

Bob Martin & Chad Beguelin's book is chock-full of fantastic one-liners that liberally lace comedy throughout, but it's the quiet moments that will take your breath away. Music (Mathew Sklar) and lyrics (Chad Beguelin) poetically capture young, wistful love as well as Broadway belts and fast-paced prom dance music, while Casey Nicholaw's signature direction and choreography ensure that the stellar ensemble is boldly showcased.

Yes, there's some preaching going on, but the bigger picture is self-acceptance, connection and for the Broadway stars, the realization that using people is really bad form. It will take Sinclair Mitchell's character, principal Mr. Hawkins, to show Dee Dee that being a good person is more important than being a star. In the end, dreams come true and I'm here to tell you that the audience felt great after going to The Prom.

Book by Bob Martin & Chad Beguelin
Music by Matthew Sklar
Lyrics by Chad Beguelin
Original Concept by Jack Viertel
Now thru July 17, 2022
Golden Gate Theatre
Photo courtesy of Deen Van Meer

Hats off to BroadwaySF who donated $10 of every ticket to the Trevor Project, a suicide prevention and crisis intervention org for LGBTQ+ youth.

From This Author - Linda Hodges

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