Prom Queen

Students Perform a True Life Student’s Story

A real life story is brought to life on the Grand Theatre’s stage by the students of the High School Project.  It all seems very appropriate, since most of the show is set in a high school gym, and most of the roles are for high school students.

The true story took place in 2002, when student Marc Hall sued the Durham Catholic District School Board because he was not allowed to take his boyfriend to his high school prom.  It was a difficult battle for a kid, and the case made news across Canada.

This musical covers all the challenges Marc faces:  He is forced to come out to his parents; his boyfriend doesn’t like the spotlight; he loses a scholarship; he’s betrayed by a favourite teacher; and he is let down by his priest and church.  But the court rules in his favour and he and his boyfriend attend the prom together.

While very controversial in 2002, it still created waves when it was first announced that Prom Queen would be the High School Project in 2018.  Both the Catholic and public school boards in London area withdrew their usual $15,000 funding.  Later the public board restored their funding and an online appeal more than made up for the Catholic board’s lack of support.

Each year, London’s Grand launches a full-scale musical, giving students the opportunity to learn under professional directors, choreographers, and musical directors in the venerable Grand Theatre.

This musical of Marc Hall’s battle was brought about by Sheridan College’s Canadian Music Theatre Project, where they work with playwrights and develop new shows.  This program has an excellent track record as it is the impetus behind the hit show Come From Away.

Devon Dixon and Damon Guidolin are charming as Marc and Justin, the young couple at the centre of the controversy.  Maddie Daley, Marcy Gallant and Amber Sellers are also a charismatic trio of friends.  The best singing voices in the show belong to Sarah Dennison as Marc’s mother and Matt DeKort as Marc’s father.  Sarah’s number “Mother Mary” is an emotional plea, while Matt’s reprise of “Infinite” is poignant.  Keith Ssemugenyi as Boomer shines in his solo number “Game Face”.  Bradley Amesse as lawyer Lonnie Wynn adds great energy.

Take your friends and family to see Prom Queen and support the young cast, including all the ensemble members who make the big prom dance finale so much fun.  The crew is also made up of high school students, and two students are members of the orchestra.

This is an excellent example of inclusion and the importance of equal rights set inside a heart-warming family story.  All the students involved deserve credit for making a historical event come to life.

Prom Queen continues at the Grand Theatre, London until September 29.  Tickets are available at the Grand box office at 672-8800 or 1-800-265-1593 or visit www.grandtheatre.com.

Photo: Left: Devon Dixon as Marc Hall and Damon Guidolin as Jason. Right: Devon Dixon as Marc Hall and Marcy Gallant as Carly and ensemble.  Photos by Dahlia Katz.

Prom Queen
Book by Kent Staines
Music by Colleen Dauncey
Lyrics by Ikiva Romer-Segal
Based on the true life story of Marc Hall
Directed by Dennis Garnhum
Choreographed by Lisa Stevens
Musical Direction by Andrew Petrasiunas
Performed by students of London & Area High Schools
Produced by the Mary Young Leckie and Grand Theatre High School Project
Grand Theatre, London
September 18 to 29, 2018
Reviewed by Mary Alderson

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