Same-sex love gets a ‘Prom’ date at Montgomery College Summer Dinner Theatre

This fun musical about inclusivity resonates today just as when it premiered on Broadway in 2018.

Montgomery College Summer Dinner Theatre (MCSDT) has put on another entertaining production for its 46th year. The first of two shows is The Prom, directed by Ian Anthony Coleman. Ian is an alum of MCSDT, having played the Tin Man in the 2013 production of The Wiz. The theme and content of this show could not be more fitting for Pride Month.

The Prom premiered on Broadway in 2018 and is partly based on a true story. It is mainly inspired by original producer Jack Viertel, who kept encountering similar stories in headlines. He had seen several instances where same-sex couples were banned from their prom. Who could predict that in five short years, schools are becoming more exclusive of the LGBTQ+ community than inclusive? The Prom was written by Bob Martin and Chad Beguelin, and their writing continues to shine a light on this exclusion.

Scene from ‘The Prom.’ Photo by Juliana Quirino.

The story begins at the premiere of a fictional Broadway show, Eleanor: The Eleanor Roosevelt Musical, starring Dee Dee (played by Cristen Young with a powerhouse voice), along with her three costars, Barry, humorously played by Eitan Amster, Angie, wonderfully played by Daniela Lock, and Trent played by Kelly Mok, who commands the stage with his performance.

This motley troupe finds their show opening and closing on the same night due to less-than-stellar reviews, which causes them to panic and enter crisis mode. They decide to find a “cause” to show outward kindness to the world. In the show’s opening number, “Changing Lives,” Angie (Daniela Lock) searches Twitter and finds a school in Indiana that has received national attention for banning gay students from prom. This is it! This is the “cause” that will distract from their abysmal reviews, transforming their reputations and careers.

The prom in question focuses on Emma. I don’t know anyone who would be more suited for this role than Susan Rodgers. She sings “Just Breathe” with such a convincing and beautiful tone. Emma and Alyssa, nicely played by Julie Pesak are the couple at the heart of the controversy. Alyssa’s mother, Mrs. Greene (Shelley Deppa), is the leader of the opposition to a gay-inclusive prom. This poses a dilemma for Alyssa and Emma.

We are introduced to the principal of James Madison High School, Mr. Hawkins (Preston James), who has contacted the ACLU and is against Mrs. Greene and the PTA banning the gay community from prom. He sings “We Look to You” with such bravado and commanding presence that you want to hear more. Mr. Hawkins and Dee Dee strike up a friendship at the “Apples and Bees” (Applebee’s). Despite all of Mr. Hawkins and the Broadway Four’s attempts at an inclusive prom, disappointment is on the horizon.

The cast of ‘The Prom.’ Photo by Juliana Quirino.

MCSDT always brings the goods regarding set design (Elizabeth McFadden). The illusion of a high school gymnasium was orchestrated well, along with a scene with a recognizable convenience store. Overall, the choreography (Patricia “Pep” Targete) was well executed. Music Director Elisa Rosman excelled in the heavy dance number “Zazz.” The talented Bob Fosse backup dancers (Jill Taylor and Emily Scholl) put on a showstopper performance, allowing Lock and Rodgers to shine yet again. The outfits of the Fosse dancers (costume design by Kristina Martin) helped set the tone of this dance number.

The show has some humorous and soulful moments set forth in song, particularly “Love Thy Neighbor,” featuring Trent (Kelly Mok) and Ensemble, and “Unruly Heart” by Emma (Susan Rodgers) and Ensemble. The Prom is a fun and thought-provoking show. As Ian Anthony Coleman stated in his director’s note, “The Prom is a celebration of love in all its forms. It reminds us that no matter our differences, we are all deserving of love, respect, and a place to belong”.

Running Time: Approximately two hours and 30 minutes, including a 15-minute intermission.

The Prom plays three more times — June 23, 2023, at 8 p.m., June 24 at 8 p.m., and June 25 at 2 p.m. — presented by Montgomery College Summer Dinner Theatre performing in the Theatre Arts Arena, Theatre Arts Building, Rockville Campus, 51 Mannakee Street, Rockville, MD. Tickets ($65 buffet and show, $25 show only) can be purchased online or by calling 240-567-5301 (box office hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.).

COVID Safety: Masks are optional but encouraged for guests, especially when serving from the buffet.

The Prom
Book & Lyrics by Chad Beguelin | Book by Bob Martin
Music by Matthew Sklar
Based on an original concept by Jack Viertel

Director: Ian Anthony Coleman
Music Director: Elisa Rosman
Choreographer: Patricia “Pep” Targete
Sound Design: Neil McFadden
Light Design: Lynn Joslin
Costume Design: Kristina Martin
Scenic Design: Elizabeth McFadden
Props Designer: R. Scott Hengen


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