Civic Theatre Presents: The Prom

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The Tarkington // Oct 6 – Oct 21

September/October 2023

Four eccentric Broadway stars are in desperate need of a new stage. So, when they hear that trouble is brewing around a small-town prom, they know that it’s time to put a spotlight on the issue … and themselves. The town’s parents want to keep the high school dance on the straight and narrow — but when one student just wants to bring her girlfriend to prom, the entire town has a date with destiny. On a mission to transform lives, Broadway’s brassiest join forces with a courageous girl and the town’s citizens and the result is love that brings them all together. Winner of the Drama Desk Award for Best Musical, The Prom expertly captures all the humor and heart of a classic musical comedy with a message that resonates with audiences now more than ever. (Theatrical Rights Worldwide)

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It is always a pleasure and privilege to interview the Civic Theatre’s Executive Artistic Director Michael Lasley and the casts of any Civic production. Lasley and the cast of The Prom — that includes his wife, Marni Lemons —shared some of their thoughts on performing this specific musical and on working with Civic.

Michael Lasley − Director

“I’ve been here for almost 34 years,” Lasley shared. “During the bulk of that time, we sort of told the same stories over and over again. It wasn’t until 2015 that we had an opportunity to make a major change [at Civic]. I know where I am and who my audience is, and no human being on the face of the earth has ever changed their mind because someone stood in their face and screamed at them. We may not change anyone’s mind … that’s not why we’re doing this [theater]. We’re doing this to give someone else a voice that doesn’t have one. You can’t approach what we do as validating or invalidating anybody’s point of view, whether it’s somebody in the audience or a character on the stage. They [the characters] were written that way for a reason by somebody, and the honest performer is a person who is willing to put their depth of soul into what they’re doing on stage.”

Dee Dee Allen − Marni Lemons

This is my 40th anniversary year, and I’ve done about 40 shows with Civic. Civic allows someone like me who is an avocational performer, but I don’t like the “A” word — amateur — because of what it connotes. I consider myself a professional [actor], but I choose to do it and not be paid. Civic allows me to perform in a 100 percent professional atmosphere with the level of tech and support that you can’t find in other community theaters.

Civic Theatre Presents The Prom

My character is an aging Broadway diva who’s never been afraid of homosexuals … they’re her biggest fans! But Dee Dee is very ignorant and has awful prejudice against the folks in the small town. What I bring to the show is an extreme and humorous view to help people understand we ALL need to do a better job of understanding each other, all the way around. Everybody has their own stuff that they’re living through.

Emma Nolan − Kelsey McDaniel

This is actually my first show with Civic. I’m excited to be playing Emma. She is so courageous to be “out” in a town that is so conservative, and frankly, no one likes her or agrees with her lifestyle. I think it’s especially important because the story takes place in Indiana. With all the laws that are being passed — the anti-gay and anti-trans bills— it’s so important for this story to be told now. I think people need to listen, understand and start to grow. I hope that people who don’t agree with what we’re doing come to the show and maybe start to change the way they think. And maybe feel a little more accepting of people.

Civic Theatre Presents The Prom

It’s been fun stepping into a different role and finding parts of the character that are qualities and parts of myself … putting some humor and sarcasm into the role. Emma’s dealing with a lot of sad things, but she’s bright, intelligent, funny and witty, so it’s been fun to [bring] parts of myself into this role.

Barry Glickman − Chad Leitschuh

This is my second show with Civic. My first [show] was “The Sound of Music.” I’m playing Barry Glickman. He’s a flamboyant Broadway star who is politically incorrect but does not know it. And his biggest goal is to give Emma the prom that she deserves, which he didn’t have as a teenager when he went to prom. I hope that people walk away [after the show] feeling that they’re not alone, because they aren’t. I hope they can walk away with a feeling of acceptance.

I have brought some of my personal emotions and experiences from my younger days into this character. Barry is an emotional rollercoaster, so it’s very challenging, as an actor, to be able to portray that, but I’m certainly giving it my best shot!

Alyssa Greene − Kaylee Johnson-Bradley

I’m happy to be here. This is my first [Civic] show. Alyssa is this character who has this front up of being perfect. I can relate to that a lot, just going through life and trying to be perfect at everything: the arts, student council and all of that stuff. I think Emma helps her with that a lot, but I also think Alyssa is terrified of becoming Emma because Emma is an outcast and is seen as a failure.

Civic Theatre Presents The Prom

So, the question for Alyssa is: Is she willing to lose the person she loves to remain “perfect”? That’s been really interesting to tackle. I hope that by the end of the show, people can come out feeling like they can be themselves and be perfectly imperfect.

Nick − Andrew King

This is my first [Civic] show, and I am very excited that I get to be a part of this show and am getting to work with the adults who have done theater a lot and are really good. Me getting to just be here is so fun because I get to learn and watch and do, and it’s just incredible.

This show is hilarious, and there are so many hilarious parts, but then [the show] is real. The stuff we’re laughing at, the jokes, is so funny, but then I’m like, “People are actually out there thinking like this.” I think it’s very important that we get to put this show on in such a way that it’s not just right in [the audience’s] faces but we can also mix that lighthearted feel — like the jokes and stuff — while also incorporating the real-world problems in it.