THE PROM (2020)
Beautiful, timely, and upbeat, The Prom is the feel-good musical I have been waiting for this year with a stellar leading lady in Jo Ellen Pellman and a star-studded supporting cast.
Broadway stars looking for good publicity and a bigoted Parent Teacher Association come head-to-head in Indiana when a young lesbian student (Pellman) is denied an authentic prom experience with her girlfriend (Ariana Debose). This Ryan Murphy adaptation of the Tony Award-nominated Broadway hit is full of heart and a message of inclusion, buoyed by a diverse soundtrack that hits on all of the musical genres. Though a lengthy production and at times rather slow, the showstopping performances more than make up for it. Meryl Streep, James Corden, Nicole Kidman, Keegan-Michael Key, Andrew Rannells, and Kerry Washington round out the loaded cast, each delivering in their respective roles. It is Corden, however, who may get the most attention as a straight male actor playing a flamboyantly stereotypical gay Broadway star. While I raised my eyebrow at this to start, his delivery in The Prom won me over, balancing comedy and heart in a surprising way. He played the role the way it was written in this over-the-top musical that forces you to suspend belief and logic, just as most musicals do (this is even mentioned in the film).
Pellman is the true standout here, however, in her first leading role and showcasing a phenomenal voice only outshined by her genuine performance. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll want to get up and dance with The Prom, now streaming on Netflix.
Photo from IndyStar