This year, Ryan Murphy signed on to direct a film adaptation of the smash hit musical. On December 4th, the movie hit Netflix and became number 1 on their trending list.
The story starts with four washed up Broadway stars who find themselves out of work. To save their careers, they search for a good cause to bring some good publicity. Enter Emma, a gay teen who wants to bring her girlfriend to the highschool prom. The PTA catches wind of this and cancels the prom. With the help of four actors, a determined principal, and Emma’s girlfriend, Alyssa, the prom is replanned for all students.
In 2016, Bob Martin and Chad Beguelin’s The Prom was brought to the stage. With direction and choreography by Casey Nicholaw, the show was a hit. It opened on Broadway in 2018 and ran a total of 309 performances.
To say I was excited about this film is an understatement. I was blown away by the show when I saw it on Broadway and couldn’t wait for this new version to be released. And I can assure you, I was not let down.
The movie was cast perfectly. Our four Broadway stars were played by Meryl Streep, James Corden, Nicole Kidman, and Andrew Rannells, each one bringing a different personality to the scenes. Streep stole the show. Her voice definitely has improved since her last musical roles in Mamma Mia and Into the Woods. Even though she was a little mature for the role, she played it perfectly.
Corden started off as very hard to watch. Many viewers were distracted by the fact that Murphy casted a straight man to play this very colorful gay character. I was personally annoyed with the choices in voice and movement that made him seem to be mocking the character rather than being the character.
Kidman was terrific as expected since her last singing role in the classic film, Moulin Rouge. Her witty comedic timing and fun dance numbers made her scenes a treat to watch.
It was disheartening to see that Rannells was the only Broadway veteran in a movie about the great white way. Nevertheless, he played the role of narcissistic Juilliard alum, Trent Oliver, extremely well.
Keegan-Michael Key played the principle, Mr. Hopkins. He was also a little age inappropriate but played and sang this role better than expected. He is definitely one I will be looking forward to seeing in more movie musicals.
This group of acting experts was joined by Ariana DeBose and new comer, Jo Ellen Pellman as Alyssa and Emma. DeBose was very enjoyable to watch. Her character felt very real and relatable for the teens watching, especially the deeper scenes with her mom, played terrifically by Kerry Washington.
Pellman had the difficult task for leading this star studded cast. Vocally, she was brilliant. There were a few moments when she chose to take the lower notes when a little more belt would have been appreciated. I was personally uncomfortable with the amount of smiling done when playing a girl who has had her whole school turn against her because of her sexuality. But the strong ensemble made up for any lost causes.
Like I mentioned before, I sure hope that there were actors and crew members from Broadway utilized during the filming of this movie. With no work options due to the pandemic, It’s hard to imagine filming this whole movie without that concern being addressed.
Overall, the film was visually pleasing. With the bright lights, costumes, and scenary, it was hard to take your eyes off the screen. I loved how the Broadway actors costumes were loud and colorful when everyone in the school was muted and dull. I wasn’t a fan of Emma’s costumes. They felt offensive and stereotypical. I feel this this movie wasn’t the place for that. Otherwise, the production design was spectacular.
I appreciated the additions to the movie that weren’t in the musical but didn’t think any of the cuts made were necessary. The movie lacked a sense of realism that this story requires. Especially when it, though loosely, is based on true events.
The movie was choreographed by Casey Nicholaw, who worked on the Broadway production. But, the camera angles didn’t highlight the dancing as much as it should have. More wide shots of the group numbers would have nice, it felt like we were missing out.
But more than anything, I loved the feeling you get when the movie finishes. It reminded me of 2006’s Hairspray. This movie was a necessity for all audiences especially those who are craving musical theatre during such a rough time.