Musicals Won’t Save the World but “The Prom” Is Gonna Try Anyway

The Prom is a new musical from Alliance Theatre (Atlanta, Georgia) that’s coming to Broadway in November 2018 and it’s about lesbians and we need to talk about it right now.

Emma Nolan, a teenage lesbian in Indiana, wants to go to prom with her girlfriend. She soon becomes the town outcast when her PERFECTLY REASONABLE request results in the PTA cancelling the prom for everyone. Because if the gays want it, the straights must destroy it. But do not despair! A bunch of ex-Broadway stars who want to show the world how amazing and selfless they are will save the day! Or at least, try to. That’s when things get even more ridiculous.

Here is why you need to love this straight from my liveblog to myself:

There is a literal song where the girls sing to each other about how their lives went from black and white drab to full color BECAUSE THEY ARE LESBIANS AND IN LOVE

The straight couple just talks about how Broadway should still be alive and well and how sticking up for the kids in school makes work worth it and how to be better people its adorable

Coming out stories are great and I love them but it’s beyond refreshing to see girls who just know they’re gay and cannot be swayed from sticking to their truth

How many lesbian stories are there where
a.) The girls aren’t physically harmed
b.) She gets to stay the protagonist in their own story
c.) THE LESBIANS GET TO LIVE AND BE HAPPY BY THE END
I’m gonna tell you how many off the top of my head and that answer is zero

I AM A MESS I CANNOT BELIEVE I AM WATCHING A MUSICAL WHERE TWO GIRLS ARE IN LOVE AND THEY ARE GOING TO PROM IM CRYING I CANNOT CALM DOWN HOLY SHIT AND THERE ARE ADULTS FIGHTING FOR THE KIDS AND THEYRE SINGING ABOUT HOW THEATRE IS IMPORTANT WHAT IS THIS AM I IN HEAVEN

I 100% believe that life can be made better with musical accompaniment and perfectly choreographed dance breaks, so I was all on board for this show. I had a hell of a high school experience and am always up for any story that lets me rewrite it (however temporarily) into something less tragic and ridiculous.

See, I’m advocating for this show cause I was a theatre kid and even though the runninng joke is that theatre is gay, it really isn’t, it’s just….less straight. If you think about it, there are very few musicals for lesbians. Playbill wrote about this and highlights how even when we’re in shows (such as The Color Purple, Rent, and Falsettos), most of the characters are stereotypical, they don’t stay together or even stay alive, or you’ve got to read between the lines to get your representation.

Though Fun Home, Alison Bechdel’s musical based on her bestselling memoir of the same name, is a necessary masterpiece that avoids these pitfalls, it can still leave a young girl or non-binary kid wanting more than “when you grow up, it’ll get better.” Because sometimes you need to know that it can be a little more than bearable, right now. We all know that a lot of kids aren’t staying alive long enough to even find out if it gets better. Is this musical going to change that? Probably not. But it can give someone hope. And I’ve seen hope do impossible things.

Theatre is about taking a chunk of life and turning everything up to the highest setting. I think the idea is to give people a safe space to dream and feel and be without worrying if they seem too dramatic or gay or just plain wrong. It gives you a chance to work through some shit. Are you going to come out to the entire school after a year and a half in the closet? Of course not (but if you do, more props to you)! But seeing it play out on stage lets you indulge in the fantasy, feel a ton of shit and then get to the other side of it so you can be rational and do what you need to do. It lets you figure out what you can do in reality. It may even convince you that it’s the perfect idea and to go ahead with it. Theatre and this musical especially just gives you fucking options to the shit you don’t know how to deal with. And when you’re still in high school and everything feels like it’s gonna end, that’s some shit you need.

Alexis Smithers (Lex Lee) is a black nonbinary person creating on the East Coast. They've volunteered for Winter Tangerine and currently are a Web Development Student at Bloc. A 2015 Pink Door Fellow & 2016 Lambda Literary Emerging Writer, you can find more of their work on their website and listen to them scream about poetry & other interests on Twitter.

Alexis has written 26 articles for us.

18 Comments

  1. Damn Alexis I love your writing and I love hearing about this.

    And

    “Theatre is about taking a chunk of life and turning everything up to the highest setting. I think the idea is to give people a safe space to dream and feel and be without worrying if they seem too dramatic or gay or just plain wrong”

    This is my ?-explosion of feeling about theatre; where your heart can go supernova and create new constellations ⭐⭐⭐.

  2. I SAW THIS IN ATLANTA TWICE BECAUSE I LIVE HERE AND IT’S THE BEST. Also I got to meet Beth Leavel and Christopher Sieber and fangirled my head off. I’m so in love with this musical and I’ve literally been waiting a year for them to get a transfer date to Broadway. I’m crossing all the fingers I own that the original cast comes back for the Bway production.

    I LOVE IT SO MUCH. It’s so positive and it’s HILARIOUS and heartwarming and THE LESBIANS GET A HAPPY ENDING and I definitely cried from happiness when I saw it.

  3. Also! I know it can get very discouraging when companies try and profit off of queer acceptance and slap a rainbow logo on something because they know it will sell BUT I know the production team behind this show (they’re actually a lot of the same people behind Fun Home!) and they really genuinely want to tell happy and queer stories and aren’t trying to make a cash grab and it is so so good

    • BOB MARTIN WROTE THE BOOK.

      I know him personally, he’s a good friend of my aunt’s, I’ve worked with him before,and he is a lovely human being. This is a production and creative team we can trust.

  4. Hey everyone, thanks so much for the love on this post I was so excited about this!

    I saw Allison found a soundtrack (thank you) and wanted to tell you look up Lesbians and Prom on Youtube! Don’t know how much longer it’ll be up, but definitely get a chance to watch if you can!

    also Tumblr is great for getting hyped about this that’s where I first heard about it so some I like are (I searched ‘the prom’ and ‘the prom musical’):

    https://theprommusical.tumblr.com/
    https://thepromlyrics.tumblr.com/
    http://martinmoran.tumblr.com/ (has other content tho)
    http://lizardshands.tumblr.com/tagged/tpm
    https://nichelec.tumblr.com/tagged/the-prom-musical
    https://tonight-belongs-2-us.tumblr.com/

    and this post! https://milkywaymallow.tumblr.com/post/165506401687/guysim-begging-yallwatch-the-prom-its

    if you can’t tell I’M SO READY FOR THIS MUSICAL

  5. Going to New York later this month & now I’m really bummed out The Prom will take a year to arrive. All the musicals I’ve been listening to have been removed and now I’m only left with DEH and Hamilton, which let’s be honest, are super fuckin’ packed and I’ll never get in. Also, neither of them include lesbians, sooooooo…

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