Quote of the Day: My wish for you is that you continue. Continue to be who and how you are, to astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness. Continue to allow humor to lighten the burden of your tender heart. Maya Angelou

The Prom at the Chanhassen Dinner Theatres. Photo: Dan Norman

I applaud The Chanhassen Dinner Theatres for producing this sweet, humorous and electric show about love, acceptance, and inclusivity. The dynamic cast, under the direction of the kind and talented Michael Brindisi, brings this fun, and socially relevant, show to light on stage with their regional premiere of the Tony Award-winning musical The Prom

Emma (Monty Hays) is being shunned by her community because she wants to bring her girlfriend Alyssa (Maya Richardson) to the Prom. Four rather shallow Broadway stars and their manager reach out to Emma to help her cause and give her the courage to stand up for herself and the right to date whomever she wishes and attend the Prom. While their motives might not be completely altruistic, as they’re main motivation is to improve their own images, they do succeed in bringing to light an injustice and help a young woman feel empowered and not totally ostracized for who she is. 

The “helpful” Broadway stars in The Prom at the Chanhassen Dinner Theatres. Photo: Dan Norman

Tod Petersen shines as Broadway star turned activist Barry Glickman. I feel like he has the most growth in the show. At first he seems rather shallow, worried about his own career and appearance. Soon, he takes Emma under his wing and shares with her his own heartache over who he is and the rejections he’s experienced because of it. He never attended his own Prom.

Jodi Carmeli is hilarious as the very full of herself Broadway star, turned flop, Dee Dee Allen. A few people still remember her glory days, including Principal Hawkins (JoeNathan Thomas) who gives her both the accolades and attention she craves. She may be over-the-top, but deep down she really cares about people and doing what’s right.

Principal Hawkins comforting Emma at the ditched Prom. Chanhassen Dinner Theatres. Photo: Dan Norman

Jay Albright plays Sheldon Saperstein with his usual humor and charisma. Always a delight to see him on stage. Helen Anker plays Angie Dickinson, always a chorus girl never the lead. She gives Emma some heart-to-heart advice and shows her that perseverance, determination, and hard work eventually pay off. Shad Hanley as Trent Oliver is, well, colorful. (See photos below). He’s charming and sincere and not afraid to strut his stuff.

Angie singing the Acceptance song at The Prom. Chanhassen Dinner Theatres. Photo: Dan Norman

As the Broadway team brings more and more attention to the small town of Edgewater, Indiana, the conservatives in town push back. They double down on their exclusion policies and set up Emma for a very painful Prom experience. Even her girlfriend Alyssa lets her down. Emma is about ready to break, but Barry and the rest of the Broadway crew, along with the support of Principal Hawkins show her that she not only has worth but also a voice that will lift others up. 

Barry gets his moment at The Prom. Chanhassen Dinner Theatres. Photo: Dan Norman

The choreography by Tamara Kangas Erickson is terrific. I’m going back to the show in a couple weeks, and I’m most excited to watch more of the dancers. The dancing is spectacular! Such fun and exciting music with a few heartfelt ballads mixed in is what earned The Prom its Tony. Music direction by Andy Kust. The musicians are on stage behind a curtain, but you get a glimpse of them at the end. Vibrant and easily movable set by Nayna Ramey. Brilliant costumes by Rich Hamson. (I chuckled at the rainbow tie-dye from the “Godspell” cast.) Lighting by Sue Ellen Berger, and sound by Russ Haynes.

Acceptance Song, The Prom at Chanhassen Dinner Theatres. Photo: Dan Norman

You can see this sweet and dynamic production of The Prom at The Chanhassen Dinner Theatres through June 10, 2023. If you’d like to join the Twin Cities Theater Bloggers for a special event with a discussion after the show, join us on Saturday, March 4, for the matinee performance. Use promo code TCTB1 for $20 discount for that performance, and any performance before March 12. 

Go. Create. Inspire!

Journaling Prompt: What was your Prom experience?