The Prom

The PromOriginal Broadway Cast, 2019 (Broadway Records) 4 Stars (4 / 5)  The Prom might be described as an old-fashioned musical comedy with a modern sound and up-to-the minute subject matter and plot, about a bunch of vain, self-absorbed, New York theater types who become Social Justice Warriors when they read about an Indiana high school prom having been canceled to prevent a lesbian student from attending with her girlfriend.  The show’s book (by Bob Martin and Chad Beguelin) and score (lyrics by Beguelin, music by Matthew Sklar) offer much hilarity, plus several moments of heartfelt sentiment,  as the NYC peeps head to Indiana to try to make everything right. The culture- and ideology-clash results are hilariously funny through most of the action, yet the show carries a powerful and moving message about inclusiveness. As was the case with their scores for The Wedding Singer and Elf, Sklar and Beguelin provide a clutch of songs notable for pleasing melodies, clever lyrics, and irresistibly catchy “hooks” — such as the phrases “One thing’s universal, life’s no dress rehearsal” in “Tonight Belongs to You” and “Build a prom for everyone, show them all it can be done” in “It’s Time to Dance.” As for the ballads, give a listen to “Unruly Heart” and “Dance With You” if you wish to enjoy songwriting of very high quality.  The cast is top-notch, with brilliant musical comedians Beth Leavel, Brooks Ashmanskas, Angie Schworer, Christopher Sieber, and Josh Lamon as the Broadway peeps, and Caitlin Kinnunen and Isabelle McCalla bringing real emotional weight and depth to the relationship of the two girls at the center of the controversy. — Michael Portantiere