‘The Prom’ is a fun showbiz satire with an open mind at Reston Community Players

This worthy production of the LGBTQ-affirming musical showcases excellent performances.

Four eccentric Broadway stars are in desperate need of a new project as their play closes on the same night it opened. When Emma’s story pops up on Twitter, they descend upon her small Indiana town and wreak havoc — along with the idea that joining the cause will boost their reputations as caring, get-involved activists. Emma just wants to bring her girlfriend to the prom, but parents and even most of the student body have other ideas. The show is based on an actual court case in 2010 involving 18-year-old Constance McMillan, who had requested permission to bring a same-sex date to the prom but the Itawamba High School in Mississippi canceled the prom instead.

Jimmy Bowen-Collinson as Barry Glickman, Lewis Eggleston as Trent Oliver, Melanie McCleerey as Dee Dee Allen, and Ashley Arnold-Brakefield as Angie Dickenson in ‘The Prom.’ Photo by Heather Regan Photography.

This musical’s prom is set in Indiana, and director Liz Mykietyn did a great job with the Reston Players casting. Actors Melanie McCleerey as Dee Dee Allen, Jim Bowen-Collinson as Barry Glickman, Ashley Arnold-Brakefield as Angie Dickenson, and Lewis Eggleston as Trent Oliver are hilarious as they turn Emma’s dilemma into a PR opportunity. However, there is a genuine warmth under the comedic narcissism. Jim Bowen-Collinson delights the audience with his timing and wit without being over the top, his singing voice is always spot on, and he portrays compassion in connecting with Emma’s character. Lewis Eggleston is appropriately goofy and loveable, and his “Love Thy Neighbor” number steals the show. Ashley Arnold-Brakefield is quirky and fun as her character shines in her own “Zazz.” Melanie McCleerey is just a powerhouse. At the beginning, her character veers into the realm of a comical diva, which has the audience roaring, but she is also able to sell Dee Dee’s transformation into a better human being with some style, not to mention her talented voice can bring the house down. Played by Chelsea Zeidman, secret girlfriend Alyssa Green authentically portrays her conflicted emotions through her solo, “Alyssa Green.”

TOP: Chelsea Zeidman (as Alyssa Green) and Colleen Lynch (as Emma Nolan) with the cast of ‘The Prom.’ ABOVE: Alexander Colon as Coach with the cast of ‘The Prom’ as the angry mob. Photos by Heather Regan Photography.

Colleen Lynch as Emma Nolan is stunning. Her character is gracefully unassuming, with sweetness and sincerity. Her voice is absolutely flawless. I saw the original on Broadway with Caitlin Kinnunen, and I daresay Lynch matches her. Lynch never pushes too hard, despite the flamboyance happening all around her, and she remains the soul of the show.

The ensemble, composed of young people playing characters in Emma and Alyssa’s high school, was dynamic and exciting to watch during the musical numbers choreographed by Kendall Mostafavi and Molly Atwater-Pulisic. Set designers Dan Widerski and Sheila Widerski created the images of high school and hotel to a T, and lighting designer Dan Widerski helped make the magic happen. Costume designers Lori Crockett and Lisa Leary also do a great job, with not just the glitz but the everyday attire of teenagers.

If this musical limited the frame of this story to intolerance and resistance, it would definitely be relevant to the LGBTQ issues of today. But this worthy production takes a fun, outrageous showbiz satire and wraps it around an earnest center of tolerance and selflessness along the way.

Running Time: Two hours and 20 minutes with one intermission.

The Prom plays through May 5, 2024 (Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 2 pm), presented by Reston Community Players, performing at Reston Community Center’s CenterStage, 2310 Colts Neck Road in Reston, VA. For tickets ($25–$35), contact the box office at 703-476-4500 x38 or purchase online. CenterStage is accessible and offers listening devices for the hearing impaired.

The Prom
Music by Matthew Sklar
Lyrics by Chad Beguelin
Book by Bob Martin and Chad Beguelin
Directed by Elizabeth Mykietyn

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Dana Roberts
Dana Roberts is a Loudoun County Public School English Teacher. She has an undergraduate degree in Sociology with a minor in Music Education and Flute and Voice from the University of Maryland, College Park, and a graduate degree in Special Education from George Mason University. She has been an actress in theater in the DC Metro Area since the age of 5, and has been a member of the Fairfax Choral Society, Cathedral Choral Society, the Reston Chorale, and is currently a member of the Alexandria Singers. She is also a member of the National Council for Teachers of English, the National Education Association, and the Council for Exceptional Children, as well as a past member of the Alexandria Singers Board of Directors. Currently she lives in Leesburg, VA, with her husband and her two beagles, Riley and Paisley.


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