It’s not unusual for Broadway hits to be adapted for the big screen.

The list is long, including classics like “The Sound of Music,” “My Fair Lady” and “The Music Man;” box office smashes like “Chicago,” “Phantom of the Opera” and “Les Misérables;” contemporary hits like “Rent” and “In the Heights;” misfires like “Rock of Ages” and “Cats;” and even the eagerly anticipated Stephen Spielberg remake of “West Side Story.”

In most cases, the shows had become well-known and toured the world before film cameras were called. Such was not the case with “The Prom,” the 2019 Drama Desk award-winning musical that managed only a short 309 performance run on Broadway. But the show did capture the eye of director Ryan Murphy, who just made a big deal with Netflix to develop all sorts of film and television projects. “The Prom” was fast-tracked through production and began streaming last year while theaters were still shuttered due to COVID-19.

Despite an A-list cast including Meryl Streep, James Corden, Nicole Kidman, Keegan-Michael Key and Kerry Washington, Murphy’s adaptation met with mixed reviews from critics and audiences alike. Despite strong LGBT themes — more on that later — the casting of a straight actor (Corden) playing gay seemed to dominate the reviews and online discourse. 

Now that performance venues are reopened across the country, audiences have an opportunity to discover the charming show and the touring production of “The Prom” is making a South Florida stop at the Broward Center in Fort Lauderdale, Dec. 14 – 19.

If you are one of the millions of Americans who aren’t familiar with the story, here’s how it goes:

In the small town of Edgewater, Indiana, PTA President Mrs. Greene announces that the James Madison High School’s prom will be canceled because a student named Emma Nolan wanted to bring a girl to the dance, much to the dismay of Principal Tom Hawkins who supports Emma, but is powerless to oppose the PTA's decision.

Meanwhile in New York City, a quartet of narcissistic, down-on-their-luck Broadway stars realize they need a cause to revitalize their careers. After finding Emma's story on Twitter, the actors drive to Indiana on a bus with the cast of Godspell, determined to fight for the teen. Despite themselves, the actors succeed in throwing Emma the prom she deserves and enlightening the community. 

Like the characters they play, the cast of the touring production includes many LGBT and gender-fluid performers. Jordan Alexander is a young queer man who grew up in a rural Ohio town, not unlike Edgewater. After college, he moved to New York City and began working immediately. He didn’t get a chance to see the show on stage, but did see the movie before joining the company.

“I think the show lives, the way it’s translated on the stage,” Alexander explained. “It just makes me want to get up and dance, laugh, cry, feel every emotion … hopefully [audiences leave] questioning the beliefs they had beforehand — whether they relate more to the people of the town or the Broadway people.”

The Broward Center is only the third stop for the company after opening in Cleveland and then moving to Orlando.

“The audiences have been so amazing. We just feed off of them, the laughter and the reactions. When we were in tech rehearsals in Kentucky, we were performing before an empty house, but then we stepped in front of the audience for the first time and it brought life to the show,” he said.

As for audiences, Alexander challenged them: “I would be prepared to laugh, be prepared to cry and experience all of your feelings. The show has a lot of heart and when it comes down to it, the show is about love, acceptance and tolerance.”


Tickets for “The Prom,” Dec. 14 - 19 at the Broward Center in Fort Lauderdale, start at $25 at BrowardCenter.org.


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