BWW Review: PROM KWEEN at Underbelly, Cowgate
Cool kids, high school identity issues, a whole lot of singing and the starting of engines. Grease may have been the word, but hunty you are not in Rydell anymore. It is 2016 and while the world is in turmoil, the life of an American teenager is no smooth catwalk. Social outsider Matthew comes untucked when they decide it is time to step out The Shadows and shine, by running for prom queen.
The crowd are 100% behind Prom Kween. With an energy higher than Ru Paul's weave. The entrance soundtrack alone creates a positivity party atmosphere from the get go. And the cast sparkle with charisma, uniqueness, nerve & talent. Giving back every last glittered drop of love from the audience. Packing a punch and finesse that is rainbow bright.As often with an hour long fringe show, you do not get time to delve deep into the characters. However each role is painted with a thicker brush than a heavy blusher. As the musical is based on a true story of great bravery, a longer show length would give room for more justice to the events that took place and topics involved. They are stereotypical high school roles but it works, giving a classic teen flick social satire feel. Think Mean Girls meets High School Musical, if staged by the cast of Ru Paul's Drag Race. The show can be applauded for venturing into gender identity discussions. Doing so with charm and heart more than trying to change the world or educate the masses. It is prom queen after all, not Miss America. The lines between sexuality vs. gender focus do get blurred, and it feels apparent the show has not been written from a specifically non-binary background. Which as a short piece of feel good kitsch, this does not take away majorly from the overall quality. Using a mix of female and male cast members to play the non-binary lead is a beautiful clever touch.William Donaldson as Ru Paul is mesmerising. An impression so on fleek that a side line tribute or best of drag cabaret show is essential for next fringe. There is electricity between the 5 piece cast, essential for an ensemble piece of this nature. The diamond studded lash on the lid of this musical is cultural reference sprinkled script. A mix of hilarious one liners and off the wall cameos, perfect for any 90's kid, but accessible easily to all. The musical score truly shines when the tracks are original. However the mix with reimaged covers gets confusing and feels unnecessary at times. There is clearly enough talent and direction to have a totally original score. Rather than relying on sometimes clunky rewrites of known songs. It is a polished work in progress strutting vivaciously in the right direction towards glory. Prom Kween is definitely more buy a ticket, than Bye Felicia! Fierce with a capital F. So much heart, and so much potential. Quick wit and sassy lines sharper than a Lady Gaga stiletto. You'll sashay away in a wave of empowerment.
Prom Kween runs at Underbelly, Cowgate (Venue 61) until 27 August