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  • Writer's pictureKimberly Laberge

Greendale Community Theatre creates a night to remember

Emma sets the scene best - "Note to self: Don't be gay in Indiana." With side splitting laughs and gut wrenching scenes, The Prom at Greendale Community Theatre is a Broadway quality experience not to be missed.

The show follows a group of New York actors down on their luck who are seeking a PR opportunity to improve their image. That's where we find a Emma, a high schooler whose Indiana prom has been cancelled due to her inviting another girl as her date. East Coast elites clash with Midwestern sensibilities in a Producers -esque comedic uproar.

The cast of The Prom.

Director Ami Majeski has outdone herself with this one. The cast is absolute perfection, from every lead to the massive ensemble. Their sound, led by music director Jeff Schaetzle, is a powerful force that can be as keenly felt as it is heard. Piano conductor Tom Reifenberg leads a flawless pit orchestra. Majeski's choreography is sharp, energized, and full of life.

Olivia Lewandowski and the cast of The Prom.

Olivia Lewandowski as Emma is nothing short of a star. Her Emma is down-to-earth and grounded, a stark contrast to the sparkly cluster of A-lists that follow her. Lewandowski brings simplicity and honesty to the role. All she wants is to dance with the girl she loves - and when she loves, you feel it. When she hurts, you feel it too, and the sniffles in the audience reveal a shared sentiment. Her voice soars over and through each song with ease.

Nick Zajdel as Trent Oliver.

The queer humor and Broadway in-jokes are what makes the script, and the delivery is key. Nick Zajdel plays Trent Oliver, the Julliard graduate and non-equity touring cast member of Godspell, with uncanny Derek Klena energy. He moves and sounds just like every 54 Below concert on YouTube, which is exactly what this role calls for. His misguidance is best on display in "The Acceptance Song", paired with Corissa Vought-Carey's impressive vocal chops as two-time Tony winner DeeDee Allen.

Robby McGhee and Olivia Lewandowski.

The role of Barry Glickman is a careful one - a grown adult who forms a close relationship with Emma. Robby McGhee skillfully navigates a respectful approach that highlights the tender connection between gay youth and their elders in the community. For every trail that Emma is blazing, Barry is experiencing secondhand the joys of being out as a high schooler in a way that was much different in his time. The twin flame energy between McGhee and Lewandowski is charming, and each bring out a depth of understanding in one another that is reserved for just those two.

As much love is felt through the adults in this one, The Prom is for the youth. At no time is that more obvious than in "Unruly Heart", the showstopping Act II number bringing together queer kids from across the nation. It's about dreaming of a better tomorrow, the simple desires of a person in love, and the ways in which politics have made something as harmless as a dance so complicated. Come to laugh at the campy comedy, stay to absorb the nuanced commentary, and leave uplifted by songs of queer joy.



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