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Broadway Heads to Small-Town Indiana in The Prom

By Natalie Daniels

Ryan Murphy’s The Prom brings the glitz and glamour of musical theater for a story simply about acceptance. Adapted from the Broadway musical of the same name, the film follows four has-been broadway stars who travel to Indiana to help rally behind and support a teen girl who wants to take her girlfriend to prom.

The iconic Meryl Streep plays Broadway star Dee Dee Allen, a diva whose interests in helping Emma come from her need for good PR. After her show with co-star Barry Glickman (James Corden) receives terrible reviews, they look to find an important cause to make them look good to the press. With the help from Chicago showgirl Angie Dickinson (Nicole Kidman) and struggling actor Trent Oliver (Andrew Rannells), they fight against the prejudice in Emma’s small Indiana town.

Newcomer Jo Ellen Pellman plays Emma with sincerity and sweetness, which helps audiences relate or sympathize with her character. Hamilton actress Ariana Debose is Emma’s girlfriend, Alyssa Greene, who hasn’t come out yet due to her classmates and controlling mother.

The central conflict in the film is that Alyssa’s mother and head of the PTA, Mrs. Greene (Kerry Washington), tries to cancel prom to prevent Emma from attending. Ignorance and a lack of acceptance cause classmates and parents to treat Emma as an outsider just because of who she is.

Movie musical adaptations can sometimes miss their mark by either casting big named actors in leading roles who might not have the musical theater talent or loosely following the original show’s plot. Although big stars lead the movie, they never fail to showcase their exuberant talent. Streep belts in all her glory, signifying that she was made for this role. Rannells uses his Broadway credits to catapult him into a fun, lovable goofball. Kidman tests the waters carefully but beautifully with her elegance and grace with a heart of gold.

Unfortunately, at times James Corden falls short with his attempts to overdo a flamboyant male character. Outlets have criticized Corden’s portrayal as a gay man as offensive because of his stereotypical acting since he is a straight man in real life.

While acknowledging people’s issues with it, it’s also essential to look at Emma’s story, which many young people face.

Ryan Murphy is no stranger to extravagant musical and dance numbers as he also created the hit theater kid show Glee. He delves into his love of show business with choreographed dance numbers, dazzling lighting, and strong vocals. He does not stray from heartfelt numbers too. Pellman’s voice lights up the room whenever her character Emma comes on screen.

Overall, if you pull back the layers of shiny lights and stylish costumes, you discover a story about love and acceptance. The Prom helps show audiences the importance of loving who you are and believing not only in others but in yourself as well.

Catch The Prom on Netflix!

Natalie Daniels is an editorial intern for Dreamlette. She is a journalism major at Emerson College with a love of storytelling. Her favorite topics include entertainment, fashion, lifestyle, social issues, and music.

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