Review: 'The Prom' theater production starring Perham grad is full of heart
"The Prom," a musical currently being performed at the Chanhassen Dinner Theatre and starring Perham's Sam Stoll in the chorus, is an enthusiastic, emotional rollercoaster.
PERHAM — As a fan of musical theater fan, when Netflix's movie adaptation of "The Prom" came out, I wasn't impressed. That being said, when I traveled to Chanhassen to watch a performance of "The Prom," starring Perham's own Sam Stoll in the ensemble, I found myself so deeply impressed that I got to fall in love with a story I'd previously underestimated (thanks to Netflix). Nothing quite beats a live performance, and this Chanhassen Dinner Theatre proves that. I even attended the play with someone who'd never seen a live musical performance before, and now all they want is to keep returning for more.
In this comedy-drama, when Broadway star and legend Dee Dee Allen (played by Jodi Carmeli) and co-star Barry Glickman (played by Tod Peterson) land themselves in a new show that bombs and closes right after its opening night, they become desperate to stay in the limelight and prove themselves to be good people. Critics, after all, are calling them narcissists. Dee Dee, who later insinuates that her apologies are a wonderful favor that should be monetized, is absolutely appalled by this "baseless" accusation.
Alongside two other struggling performers, Trent Oliver (played by Shad Hanley) and Angie Dickinson (played by Helen Anker), and publicist Sheldon (played by Jay Albright), they decide to dip their toes into activism to gain public favor. It has to be something easy and small, of course, so it can be over quickly. Angie stumbles across a story about a young girl in Indiana, Emma (played by Monty Hays), who wanted to take her girlfriend Alyssa (played by Maya Richardson) to the prom. The PTA, not wanting to open the event to the LGBTQ community, canceled the prom. Dee Dee and her entourage take it upon themselves to be this girl's "savior" — in what's clearly a self-motivated decision — and head to Indiana.
My largest critique of the Netflix movie adaptation is that it felt soulless. In a story that's inherently about redemption, trauma, love and acceptance, the movie lacked a certain sincerity. The Chanhassen Dinner Theatre production, however, had heart from the second the lights went on all the way to the end-of-show bows.
Prom is an experience that's almost synonymous with high school. Kids often look forward to it from a young age, and "The Prom" makes the point that everyone deserves to experience this simple human tradition filled with happiness, no matter who they are. It also shows that people can change for the better, as long as they put in the effort. Despite being a tear-jerking story, the performance is filled with optimism and humor, all emphasized by the head-bobbing pop music worthy of your Spotify "likes" playlist.
Alongside a fantastic leading cast, the orchestra and supporting cast absolutely make the show shine. In particular, supporting character Shelby (played by Daysha Ramsey) stood out with charisma that absolutely shined on stage. Her dancing in particular was so phenomenal, I almost swear she has gravitational control of her hair with the way it flowed alongside her moves. Ensemble members Sam Stoll and Tyson Insixiengmai also stood out as exuberant actors and dancers, drawing the eyes of audience members.
I'd say if you're a fan of comedies or musical theater, I'd recommend this show, but honestly, I'd recommend the performance to anyone. Every single person who sets a foot on stage is dedicated to making a beautiful, once-in-a-lifetime show for the audience, and it shows. Do yourself a favor and book a ticket, travel to Chanhassen and see this show before it closes on June 10 this year.