I’m not sure who The Prom is for.
It’s a show written by liberal democrats, preaching a liberal democratic message. The show specifically calls this out about itself at one point, which is why I feel comfortable saying it here. It’s a funny line, and it’s true.
But who is the show for? It’s not for liberals, who already believe in the core pro-equality message. If it’s for conservatives—if the show is actually trying to convert people to its ideals—it’s an incredibly poor attempt.
The Prom is hamfisted, preachy, cheesy, and derivative in every moment. Everything in the show has been done before, and better. There are some good musical moments, but they are more than ruined by the rest of it.
The most egregious number has to be “Love Thy Neighbor,” an incredibly cringeworthy song from every angle. Not only is it a terrible song, but the lyrics are so preachy I felt terrible listening to it. Look—I’m on board with the message. And I was raised a conservative Christian, so I get that culture and what those people are like. But why did this number have to exist? It’s not going to convert any Christians to the cause. It will simply turn them off entirely—and that’s assuming any Christians were in the building to begin with.
There is a literary technique called allegory, wherein a story is crafted to teach some kind of message without actually saying the message directly. The form exists in order to get people to listen who normally wouldn’t.
This show is the exact opposite.
If any of it were actually good, I’d be a lot more forgiving of the horrible way it slams its message down your throat. But it’s not. It’s just not a good show, from the composition to the choreography. Really the best I can say about it is that the cast does a good job with the material they’ve been given.
Trent Oliver is a joy to watch, as always.
Verdict: Skip. For messages about equality, try almost any other musical that has dealt with it over the years. For messages about fitting in, head to Dear Evan Hansen, Mean Girls, Be More Chill, or any of countless others that have handled it better. If you’re looking for a show about aging Broadway stars who awkwardly try to take over a rural town, well. I guess this is your show.