Review: The Prom by Zach Theatre
by Vanessa Hoang Hughes


 “This is our moment to change the world, one lesbian at a time!”


(photo by Suzanne Cordiero)When their musical about Eleanor Roosevelt fails spectacularly, four proud Broadway thespians explore ways to save their reputations through an attention-grabbing act of kindness and generosity. They brainstorm heart-pulling and tear-dropping causes, seeking one that won't require too much work. They find one in a Twitter headline: Indiana highschool cancels prom because of one lesbian couple! Like the hosts of Queer Eye, DeeDee, Bary, Trent, and Angie set out on a journey to change the life of Emma, the young lesbian shunned in a small-minded small town.


The Prom is a coming-of-age-and-gender musical, a quirky, adventurous musical about accepting one another despite differences.  It speaks  with heart and humor of the challenges of queer identity and the struggles of being gay. The story could have explored deeper moments but usually went for the jokes instead. Bob Martin and Chad Begulein did the book, Mathhew Skylar composed the score, and Chad Beguelin provided the lyrics.


 I had some issues with the script, but I appreciated The Prom’s semi-self-aware jokes, inspiring message, and catchy songs.


One scene,  the penultimate number “Unruly Heart,” did dig deeper. Teenage Emma tells us in song how she learned to love herself and ignore those who tell her otherwise. No jokes, no gags, no sparkles—Emma addresses the audience in a beautiful moment of self-acceptance and community.


The Zach Theatre always entertains, and this show was no exception. The Topfer is a beautiful venue. The lighting setup and stage are top notch, and there's not a bad seat anywhere in the house. At the closing performance of The Prom the building was filled with sparkling outfits and excited chatter.


Austin Brown's lighting design transported the audience into a bright, over-the-top world. His bold use of color and strips of neon in the rear of the stage and the sides of the house was exciting and next-level. The veil of blue light and fog over the stage created an enticing atmosphere as soon as the audience entered.


(photo by Suzanne Cordiero)


Michael Raiford's set featured little details and fun color schemes that enhanced the story. Many set elements flew down from above, including a comic Welcome to Indiana! billboard featuring a gigantic ear of corn. Raiford's set pieces were ingenious, but the production could have used more of them in certain scenes. During the big solo “Bary Is Going To the Prom" the actor is on a fully lit and mostly bare stage. Backup dancers or even simple roll-out pieces would have supported him in an otherwise energizing and triumphant scene.


This production offered incredible performances. Ryan Everett Wood gave a very high-energy performance as Bary Glickman, bringing both comedy and heart to the show. Tracy Jai Edwards came across as a sort of charming and funny Angie Dickinson with her goofy expressiveness and enthusiasm. Jamie Goodwin was an endearing Mr. Hawkins. Meredith McCall had great stage presence and vocals with DeeDee Allen.  McCall's character, a great role, could have featured even more silliness and choices. Gabriel Bernal as Trent was a crowd favorite. His hilarious delivery and vocals in both “The Acceptance Song” and “Love Thy Neighbor” were standouts.


Emma Loudermilk,Blakeny Mahlstedt (photo by Suzanne Cordiero)



Ellie Loudermilk portrayed Emma with touching sincerity and an outstanding voice. Her chemistry with Blakeny Mahlstedt, playing Emma’s love interest Allysa, was adorable. Their portrait of a young queer relationship was restrained but still brought out the tension and stress of dealing with rejection. Amber Quick, who played the complicated villain,  handled spontaneous audience heckling with comedic subtlety while maintaining her character. The ensemble had some extremely talented members, though some were lower in energy than others. An even balance of energy would have been welcome.


(photo by Suzanne Cordiero)



Director and choreographer Cassie Abate shaped this show with dynamic, high-energy pieces that moved the story as needed. Excellent pacing captivated and kept the audience’s attention throughout. Allen Robertson's music direction supported the intoxicating theatrics. Jeffrrey Meek's costumes showcased each character’s personality and changed appropriately as the story progressed. Costume was particularly impressive in Angie's big reveal “The Acceptance Song,” when she appeared in in a stunning, flowing white gown clad in rainbows in golden accents. 



The Prom at Zach Theatre was a joy. The show was full of fun surprises, eye-catching visuals, and electrifying entertainment. These were balanced with quiet moments of love and acceptance that resonated profoundly. 

The Prom
by Matthew Sklar, Chad Beguelin, Bob Martin
Zach Theatre

April 03 - May 12, 2024
Zach Theatre
1510 Toomey Road
Austin, TX, 78704

April 3 - May 12, 2024

Wednesdays - Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., Sundays at 2:30 p.m.

Topfer stage, Zach Theatre, Austin

Click HERE for ticketing page

April 3 - May 12 
Full dates & times below: 
  • Wed. April 3 at 7:30  pm
  • Thu. April 4 at 7:30pm
  • Fri. April 5 at 7:30  pm
  • Sat. April 6 at 7:30 pm
  • Sun. April 7 at 2:30  pm
  • Wed. April 10 at 7:30pm
  • Thu. April 11 at 7:30 pm
  • Fri. April 12 at 7:30  pm
  • Sat. April 13 at 2:30pm
  • Sat. April 13 at 7:30 pm
  • Sun. April 14 at 2:30 pm
  • Wed. April 17 at 7:30 pm
  • Thu. April 18 at 7:30pm
  • Fri. April 19 at 7:30  pm
  • Sat. April 20 at 2:30 pm
  • Sat. April 20 at 7:30    pm
  • Sun. April 21 at 2:30pm
  • Wed. April 24 at 7:30pm
  • Thu. April 25 at 7:30pm
  • Fri. April 26 at 7:30 pm
  • Sat. April 27 at 2:30 pm
  • Sat. April 27 at 7:30 pm
  • Sun. April 28 at 2:30 pm
  • Wed. May 8 at 7:30 pm
  • Thu. May 9 at 7:30 pm
  • Fri. May 10 at 7:30  pm
  • Sat. May 11 at 2:30pm
  • Sat. May 11 at 7:30 pm
  • Sun. May 12 at 2:30 pm
The Topfer at ZACH
202 S Lamar Blvd Austin, TX 78704
Ticketing Information
Starting at $25 (plus applicable fees)
Tickets range from $25 - $100


Special Events in celebration of The Prom:

  • Pay What You Will Week – Wednesday, April 3 – Sunday, April 7, 2024
  • Pride Night – Thursday, April 4 at 7:30pm
  • Champagne Opening Night – Thursday, April 11 at 7:30pm
  • ASL Performance – Saturday, April 20 at 2:30pm

Age Recommendation: 10 & up (for mild language) 

All sales are final but exchanges are allowed for a small per-ticket fee
All persons must have a ticket regardless of age
Children under 3 are not permitted, unless otherwise indicated