Reviews & Previews

Theatre: Prom Queen reigns, enthralling Segal audiences

Something new and exciting was unveiled at the Segal Centre this month — a world premiere of a Broadway-class production — and it is a must-see spectacle!

Prom Queen: The Musical is based on a true Canadian story, told through song and dance with choreography and direction that enthrall and fill the audience with hope.

Prom Queen is not about a young princess who reigns at a high school prom: it’s about 17-year-old Marc Hall who wants to bring his boyfriend to the big event and is prevented from doing so by the stern principal of his Catholic school.

Hall is devastated when the principal of Monsignor John Pareyma Catholic Secondary School, in Oshawa, demands that students name the guests they plan to bring to the prom, then bans Hall’s choice. Hall insists he has every right to choose his own partner. With the joyous support of his classmates he decides to fight for his rights.

The story plays out on many levels – the personal, of course, as Marc confronts the ambivalence of his father, the reluctance of his 21-year-old boyfriend, a construction worker, to come out of the closet, and his own coming-of-age angst.

Then there is the political – the hardline of the Catholic Church that homosexuality is an abomination, and Hall challenging its doctrine.

In a powerful scene in church when he notes the world is changing, he asks poignantly, “Can the church afford not to change with it?”

A lawyer comes to his aid and the conflict comes to a head in a dramatic court scene where a magistrate rules on what takes precedence, religious doctrine or individual and equality rights?

What makes this production so effective is the playful way in which it is told, with a brilliant cast that sings and dances its way through the scenario with joyful abandon that is cleverly choreographed by Sean Cheesman.

Director Marcia Cash has done a brilliant job of using the limited confines of the Segal stage to present a production that can only be described as big, big, big.

Playwright Kent Staines, who first told the story in a made-for-TV film, has succeeded in recounting what is on the surface a simple story in all its nuance and complexity. The team of composer Colleen Dauncey and lyricist Akiva Romer-Segal have combined joy and deep meaning in their songs.

Musical director Mark Camilleri makes it all sing. But most of all credit goes to the lead actor-singers —

Alessandro Costantini (Marc Hall), fellow students Sydney Scotia  (Carly), Kolton Stewart (Boomer), Hailey Lewis (Tiffany), and Stephanie Sy (Kristal), and Katee Julien as Marc’s mother (Emily).

Finally the Segal’s veteran infrastructure crew — set and costume designer John Dinning, lighting designer Luc Prairie, and head of sound Peter Balov — enabled the play and its actor-singers to sparkle.   

Prom Queen is on till November 20. Info 514-739-7944, segalcentre.org

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