Will You Go to ‘The Prom’ With Me?

South Florida-favorite Slow Burn Theatre Company premiered its penultimate performance this past week with The Prom. All at once, a tale of acceptance, teenage love, and popularity, told through LGBTQ characters in homophobic settings, The Prom scratches a pestering itch inside us who have an unruly heart. Slow Burn’s production here is guaranteed to make you laugh and feel a little better about loving your neighbor after you leave.

Once again taking over the Amaturo Theater of the Broward Center, the set design for this performance was something special, in my opinion. The way that neon mandaps framed the stage gave way for the extravagance of the four upper-class characters in the opening scene. This effect of the showy and flashy decor juxtaposes well with the simple life of Emma in her small Indiana town, where she is heavily ostracized for being an out teen. Whether it’s a gymnasium, the lobby of a Broadway theater, or dingy motel room in a rural area, I give major props to the scenic design of Timothy S. Dickey.

 The Prom – Centered – Margot Moreland & Company – Photo by Larry Marano

From the beginning of the show, I found myself laughing. This is one of my favorite things to experience, in unawares, so arriving as I do, with not much indication of what I’m about to witness at times, I did not anticipate my stomach to be aching, my ribs to be hurting, and my breath hard to catch. The four hazbin-like characters of Trent (Michael Hunsaker), Dee Dee (Margot Moreland), Angie (Shannon Mullen), and, my absolute favorite performer of the night, Henry Gainza as Barry start off the night in uproarious jocularity for the viewers. With such serious homophobia throughout the story, the humor is almost crucial to allow the seriousness to be digestible.

Emma (Regina Brown), the main character, is a young gay student who asks her girlfriend Alyssa (Sarah Lash) to the prom. Learning of the outward display of homosexual love about to happen in a majorly public way, the powers that be cancel this prom to avoid that display from happening in front of children. In come the four comedic geniuses to both help and ruin the situation in an attempt to save their popularity. The touching relationship that develops between Emma and Barry was another highlight for me, both sharing in their loss of parents, which ultimately leads the antagonist, Sarah’s mom (Shelley Keelor) to change her ways. Her homophobia will chase her own daughter away.

 Slow Burn Theater Co – The Prom – Regina Brown & Sarah Lash – Photo by Larry Marano

With a production with as many highs as this one, it sometimes is difficult to pinpoint a fault, but sometimes that fault may be one person underperforming around their other cast members. Sometimes it happens. At two points of isolation on stage with her costar Chaz Rose as Principal Hawkins, Moreland flubbed her speaking lines on opening night. Her vocal performances were loud and captivating, but it was when that intonation stopped that her lines were garbled, misspeaking in a loud way itself. The chemistry and dynamic she had with her colleagues made up for the offputting accidents. 

Slow Burn Theater Co – The Prom – Company – Photo by Larry Marano

Slow Burn Theatre Company’s The Prom is running now through Sunday, April 7. Ask your date and head there in a limo. Tickets can be purchased here.      

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