The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
“Tonight belongs to you” and the University of Missouri’s cast and company of “The Prom,” or at least it did from Nov. 4-13! For the fall musical, the MU Theatre put on a production of “The Prom,” a musical that will “fill you with the toasty-warm glow of unchallenged righteousness,” according to The Wall Street Journal. Auditions for the production took place on Sept. 1 and were open to all majors. The cast rehearsed for weeks to prepare for their opening night on Nov. 4.
The hit musical debuted in 2016 and was adapted into a Netflix original movie in 2020. It follows four Broadway stars lamenting their past careers. These stars are hunting for a charity case to help regain public appeal. This is when they stumble upon a girl named Emma in Edgewater, Indiana. Emma is in a fight for civil rights when she is told her school will not allow her to take a girl to prom. But will these Broadway stars bring more harm than good?
While presenting both the severe topics of civil rights and anti-homophobia in the setting of a high school, this musical helps to address these profound topics in a comedic way. The musical is an excellent portrayal of the effort to advance progressiveness and acceptance in small towns, and the difference in culture from New York to Indiana.
MU’s production of “The Prom” was full of laughs, sentiment, talent, and more. Freshman Katie Priscott played Emma, the main female lead. Priscott did a remarkable job bringing the character to life in a grounded way. While the musical as a whole is over the top, Priscott added a more realistic portrayal that kept the audience engaged.
The Broadway stars played by Dacia Slater, Gabe Levi, Caleb Jared, and Payton Woodruff, and their publicist played by Gehazi Whitehurst, all did a phenomenal job in bringing these huge characters to the Rhynsburger stage. Eccentric personalities are hard to capture typically, let alone in the short months they had to prepare. In particular, Levi, portraying Barry Glickman, did an outstanding job in characterizing the role, specifically during the song “Barry is Going to Prom.” The energy, vocals, and choreography all came together during this song to create a magical experience for the audience.
The choreography, done by Cayla Johnson, was full of energy and big movements, perfectly on par with the rest of the show. While sometimes it came across as a tad tangled, it overall fit the needs of the song at hand. Sharp, clean, and full of personality is the best way to describe the show-stopping choreography for the number “Zazz.”
This number includes characters Emma and Angie, portrayed by Priscott and Woodruff, and shows Emma finding her inner “Zazz” with Angie pushing her along the way. The choreography began with just Woodruff doing “Fosse-style” dancing, which is not an easy task. Bob Fosse holds numerous awards for his choreography style, famously seen in shows like “Chicago” and “Cabaret.” This style of dancing is inverted from most classical styles of dancing – a difficult task even for experienced dancers. Despite this, Priscott and Woodruff made it look like a piece of cake. This song does not fit the established style of the rest of the show, making the remarkable choreography stand out even more.
The musical’s showstopping numbers really showcased the performers’ talents, displaying the skillful casting by Dr. Joy Powell, the director. The vocal coach of the production, Symonne Sparks, did a fantastic job of making sure those sustained belts sounded clear and healthy. These awe-inspiring vocals were widely seen in the song, “The Lady’s Improving,” starring the character Dee Dee, played by Dacia Slater. Slater did an exceptional job vocally in the show, but in this number specifically, her range was put to the test. After seeing the show, there is no doubt that Slater has some serious natural talent, but also extreme vocal control which takes significant practice and training. The harmonies in some songs did have some blending issues, but overall, had a good sound.
Overall, this musical was very enjoyable. I loved getting to witness live theatre at the collegiate level, and I hope to see more of it on the Rhynsburger stage. The production was a good watch and I would recommend it to others to see what else the MU Theatre has to offer!
Did you get a chance to see “The Prom”? Let us know what you think on Her Campus Mizzou’s Twitter and Instagram!