The Center Theatre Group presents the hit Broadway musical The Prom with an outstanding ensemble cast highlighted by Kaden Kearney’s lead performance.
By John Lavitt
Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 8/15/22 – From August 9th to September 11th, the stage at the Ahmanson Theatre shines bright with a magnificent staging of The Prom. With a book by Bob Martin & Chad Beguelin and music by Mathew Sklar, this rousing musical will surely be a hit in Los Angeles. Directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw, the ensemble triumph is highlighted by the lead performance of Kaden Kearney as Emma.
The Prom tells the story of a group of narcissistic Broadway actors who decide to revive their flagging careers by becoming political. Reading about an Indiana high school senior who has been banned from her school prom because she’s a lesbian, they decide to act. Indeed, using a mix of bravado and arrogance, they will travel to Indiana and save the day. As the Broadway actors, Courtney Balan, Patrick Wetzel, Emily Borromeo, and Bud Weber keep the comic beat of the rousing production moving forward. Playing incredibly well off each other, they reveal the garbled humanity that lies obfuscated behind the egos and insecurities of their characters.
From an emotional perspective, however, non-binary actor Kaden Kearney is the empathetic heart of the production. Playing the young lesbian caught between conflicting forces, they bring an undeniable sense of emotional bewilderment and anguish to their performance. As a point of connection for the audience, Kearney is ideal. As you watch the performance, you identify with the frustrations and desires of the character. Why can’t life just be a little bit easier? Why does so much hatred and intolerance get in the way of love and decency?
As a night out on the town that relieves stress and entertains, The Prom is as good as it gets. Across the board, the ensemble cast was excellent, and a sense of joy and passion flowed from the stage to the audience. Moreover, the musical deals with political issues in a deft, non-problematic fashion. In a modern society that tends to be toxic all the time, The Prom offers relief from such ugliness by highlighting comedy, music, love, and dancing.
As a final note that in no way should be viewed as a criticism but more of a reality, there is a question we will start asking in some of our reviews. Is The Prom a performance that provides access if English is your second language or third? Can you follow the storyline if your English is good but not necessarily great?
To realize an answer to this question, the actress Bruna Bertossi from São Paulo, Brazil, attended the show with this reviewer. Loving the show, despite the language gap, Bruna commented with a smile, “As a performer, I was amazed. Even if I did not understand every reference, there were no problems. The story is so wonderful and such an inspiration. I was enchanted with the scenery, the choreography, and the music. It was my first time watching a big musical in America, and now I know why they are so loved. I saw a picture of myself in the future dancing and singing onstage.”
Given such a perspective, it is clear The Prom works for just about everybody. In fact, this reviewer sat next to a thirteen-year-old boy who thoroughly enjoyed the show. Once again, the Center Theatre Group brings the best of entertainment and performance to Los Angeles.
Photos by Deen van Meer and John Lavitt