‘The Prom’ is the made for TV version of Chad Beguelin, Bob Martin’s 2018 Broadway musical. It wasn’t necessary to create one, but I thought the movie electrifying enough to rouse the sleepiest of television watchers from this horrible year.
I love good musical numbers, and this movie is packed with them, so I’ll confess, I’m beyond thrilled that ‘The Prom’ was made.
With a clear message of inclusivity, director Ryan Murphy, who also Directed ‘Glee,’ ‘Eat Pray Love’ and ‘American Horror Story,’ offers a story of love wrapped in a fun, spirited, and melodic yarn. Pops of color burst from every corner of the screen. Before we get to Emma and the gala the movie is named after, we start with ‘Eleanor.’ Not Eleanor Roosevelt, but her Broadway opening… and her ending. By that, I mean the show in her honor. Dee Dee Allen, played by Award-Winning Meryl Streep, and Barry Glickman, played by the Carpool Karaoke King James Corden, believe this new show, about Eleanor Roosevelt, will have the critics raving and audiences clamoring for tickets. They’re thrilled when the first reviews start pouring in, but moments after, they realize they’re out of work. The news is devastating, and the critics are cruel. Their remarks are not only show ending, but they’re also career-ending.
At the bar in Sardi’s, Dee Dee and Barry are reminded of that by Angie Dickinson, played by Nicole Kidman, whose gorgeous singing voice we were first able to enjoy in Moulin Rouge. Angie lets them know that after a life of hoping to get the lead part of Roxy Hart in ‘Chicago,’ she’s come to the realization that her days as a chorus girl are over. It’s time for her friends to have the same awakening.
Not willing to throw in the towel just yet, they decide they need some good PR. Along with Angie, they put their heads together and come up with the idea to endorse a cause. Indeed, they can put their celebrity behind something the press will appreciate. When it’s covered, it’ll help boost their career to the top again. Mulling over ideas of what the cause could be; they come across a story. On the national news is a little lesbian named Emma, played by Jo Ellen Pellman, from Edgewater, Indiana. The girl has stated that she wants to bring her girlfriend to the prom, but her high school’s PTA is excruciatingly homophobic. When the president of the PTA, Mrs. Greene, played by ‘Django Unchained’ actress, Kerry Washington, hears of this, she says that lesbians aren’t welcome to participate in the prom. Since Emma insists on going, the prom will be canceled. The Broadway stars discern immediately that this is the perfect charge for celebrity activists. Barry clinches it by pronouncing in song, ‘We’re gonna help that little lesbian. Whether she likes it or not.’ They’re all terribly offended that small-minded people believe others don’t have the right to be gay. They’ are soon on their way to Indiana.
They go to the next PTA meeting and speak directly to principal Mr. Hawkins, played by Keegan-Michael Key, who they think the enemy at first. The company declares their intentions by saying that they’re liberals from Broadway, there to ‘open your hearts and minds.’ They plan to bring this small town into the 21st century. Mr. Hawkins, a serious fan of Broadway and Dee Dee’s, is thrilled, but Mrs. Greene is furious. How dare these coastal elites come to her town, try to take away their freedom of speech, and tell them how to live?!
When the troop finds Emma, they force themselves on her, too, announcing that they’re there to help. Throughout the film, we find out who her girlfriend is and that the issue is more significant than the performers who are there to liberate them fully realize. The group just created more problems for the couple, too, but luckily for us, plenty of songs come from those dilemmas. We get to know all the lead characters more when everyone pokes into each other’s lives. Barry has an issue with his parents exposed, and it’s divulged that Dee Dee needs to find new love.
The bartender from Sardi’s Trent, played by Andrew Rannells, is touring with the production of ‘Godspell.’ They’re there to lend a hand to the cause with Rannells imparting upon us the song, ‘Love Thy Neighbor,’ which sums up the thinking of everyone in town, awakening a few minds during the number.
Along with the powerful theme of acceptance, everyone has a song that allows them to show off and give us their best. You won’t be disappointed in any of the musical numbers. I was pleasantly surprised by everything ‘The Prom’ delivers to its audience and suggest you turn on Netflix the moment you get home tonight and find out why. The message, the music, and the choreography are exactly what 2020 needs. If even for a little while, we can all join the cast and forget about everything whilst we tap our toes a few times. You’ll also get several new tunes stuck in your noodle, trust me on that. Have fun!
Director: Ryan Murphy
Writers: Bob Martin, Chad Beguelin
Stars: Meryl Streep, James Corden, Nicole Kidman, Keegan-Michael Key, Andrew Rannells, Jo Ellen Pellman, Ariana Debose, Tracey Ullman, Kevin Chamberlin, Mary Kay Place, Nico Greetham, Logan Riley, Nathaniel J. Potvin, Sofia Deler, and Kerry Washington
Running Time: 2h 10m
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Musical
*Based On the Broadway musical by Chad Beguelin, Bob Martin and Matthew Sklar, originally produced for the stage by Bill Damaschke, Dori Berinstein and Jack Lane, and based on an original concept by Jack Viertel.