Review: Summer Nights Belong to Theatre Under the Stars' THE PROM!

All it takes is you, the cast of THE PROM, and a song to make this summer one to remember!

By: Jul. 17, 2023
Review: Summer Nights Belong to Theatre Under the Stars' THE PROM!
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This year, Theatre Under the Stars will be playing 2 shows over the course of the summer, one of them being the Broadway musical, THE PROM. THE PROM opened on Tuesday July 11th and will play at Vancouver’s Malkin Bowl in Stanley Park until August 25th alternating nights with Theatre Under the Star’s other musical: MATILDA. Sporting catchy songs and a heartfelt story brought to life by an incredible cast of local talent, THE PROM is a worthwhile watch for Vancouverites this summer. 

THE PROM tells the story of Emma, a girl from Edgewater, Indiana, whose prom got canceled after she planned to attend with her girlfriend. After hearing about Emma’s story, four Broadway actors desperate to improve their image travel to Indiana to help her case. Through all of the speed bumps Emma and her unlikely team of supporters encounter, they ultimately come together to celebrate love and a place of acceptance. THE PROM is a heartfelt story of courage, strength, and love. 

Review: Summer Nights Belong to Theatre Under the Stars' THE PROM!

TUTS The Prom: Amanda Lourenço, Anna Pontin, Greg Armstrong-Morris, Caitriona Murphy and Emily Taylor. Photo by Emily Cooper.

THE PROM premiered on Broadway at the Longacre Theatre in October 2018 after its tryout at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia. The show was nominated for various awards including a TONY Award for Best Musical and won a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical in 2019. The musical closed on Broadway a year later in August of 2019 after 23 previews and 309 regular performances. In December of 2020, a film adaptation of the musical was released on Netflix starring Meryl Streep, James Corden, and Jo Ellen Pellman as Emma. 

THE PROM presented by Theatre Under the Stars was a true delight. Directed and choreographed by Tracey Power with music directed by Sean Bayntun, sets designed by Brian Ball, costumes designed by Stephanie Kong and lighting designed by Robert Sondergaard, the entire show was put together by a very talented team of people. The choreography by Power did not overwhelm the singing and plot of the show. It fit the cast perfectly and made the large dance numbers upbeat and fun to watch. Despite being outside where nearly anything can happen, the show held its ground with its quality staging and sound. Ball and Sondergaard’s sets and lighting were a treat to see come to life. They moved the story along well and highlighted the major moments in each scene effectively. Kong’s costumes made the entire show very believable as it took place mostly in a high school with students in their mid-late teens. The costumes matched the tone of the musical and gave light to the important moments that occurred for the main characters. 

Review: Summer Nights Belong to Theatre Under the Stars' THE PROM!

TUTS The Prom: Greg Armstrong-Morris and Anna Pontin. Photo by Emily Cooper.

It’s always a treat to see a musical that has a mixture of comedy, good music, and addresses a very important topic that exists in society today. THE PROM gives exactly that and more. One of the main points that really impressed me about the show was the noticeably inclusive cast that starred in the show. Giving opportunity to actors hailing from all aspects of life is something that I hold close to my heart and to see Theatre Under the Stars embrace that in the casting was inspiring. With the help of an incredible cast of actors, the show was the perfect amalgamation of lighthearted and emotional moments. THE PROM didn’t dive too deep into the emotional moments nor made the comedic moments too over-the-top. Keeping such a level playing field with the entire musical made the show feel very authentic and helped convey the message of “acceptance” in a genuine way.  Combined with a very memorable soundtrack, Theatre Under the Stars’ THE PROM was definitely more than what I expected and left me very satisfied with the show overall. 

Review: Summer Nights Belong to Theatre Under the Stars' THE PROM!

TUTS The Prom: Caitriona Murphy and Kevin Khonje. Photo by Emily Cooper.

One aspect of THE PROM that made the show stand out was the chemistry amongst the cast. Both succeeding as individuals and as a group really made THE PROM a worthwhile production to witness. Starting with the four down-on-their-luck Broadway stars played by Caitriona Murphy (Dee Dee Allen), Greg Armstrong-Morris (Barry Glickman), Matthew Valinho (Trent Oliver), and Amanda Lourenço (Angie Dickinson) setting the bar high for the rest of the cast; the ebb and flow of their relationships with one another felt extremely natural and fun-to-watch. Especially in the group numbers such as “Changing Lives” and “It’s Not About Me,” it was evident that the natural relationships between the actors made the numbers run smoothly. 

The leading roles played by Anna Pontin (Emma Nolan) and Brianna Clark (Alyssa Greene) were casted perfectly. Not only did they seem born to play their respective roles, the connection that they had with each other depicted the excitement, innocence, and tumultuous nature of young love. Both Pontin and Clark’s vocals were strong, especially during their solo songs: “Just Breathe” for Pontin as Emma and “Alyssa Greene” for Clark as Alyssa. The evolution of their characters from apprehensive young students to confident young women by the end of the show was very meaningful and relatable for young audiences to see. 

Review: Summer Nights Belong to Theatre Under the Stars' THE PROM!

TUTS The Prom: Brianna Clark and Anna Pontin. Photo by Emily Cooper.

Additionally, both Kevin Khonje as Principal Tom Hawkins and Amy Gartner as Mrs. Greene gave standout performances as well. Khonje’s consistency in his role acted as a catalyst for the other cast members to shine in their roles. His supportive nature brought a sense of safety and refuge during times of distress. Furthermore, his relationship with Murphy’s character (Dee Dee Allen) was exciting to watch, highlighting the ups, downs, and uncertainties of the early stages of love. Gartner excelled in her role as Mrs. Greene. Being put in an antagonist role is never easy; especially one that embodies a person with views that can hurt a lot of people. Despite being in a role that is unlikable, Gartner played her role realistically with conviction depicting the very difficult relationship people of the LGBTQIA+ community may experience with their parents or guardians. 

THE PROM presented by Theatre Under the Stars was a comedic yet heartfelt musical representing a variety of issues that are very relatable within our society today. The songs were excellent, the acting was realistic, and everyone on stage gave a very memorable performance … what more could you ask for? 

THE PROM will play at the Malkin Bowl in Vancouver located in Stanley Park until August 25th, 2023. Tickets are available online at the link below or by calling 1-800-514-3849 (additional $5 per order for phone orders). The call centre is open Monday to Saturday from 6:00am to 5:00pm and from 9:00am to 5:00pm on Sundays. In person sales at the TUTS Box Office are also available starting July 6th, 2023. 

Disclaimer: THE PROM contains difficult subject matter and mature themes that could be triggering to some people that includes religious and political commentary, suggestive language, and the use of some profanity. 

Top Photo: TUTS The Prom: Brianna Clark and Anna Pontin (centre) and Cast of The Prom. Photo by Emily Cooper


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