This production is scheduled May 3-19, 2024.

The Prom, a musical running until May 19 at Santa Maria Civic Theatre, is a feelgood, crazy affair that will keep you fascinated.

It begins in a rural Midwest high school where all the students are excited about their upcoming prom—until one student decides she’s going to bring a same-gender date. The two’s love weaves through the play and sees many storms. All heck breaks loose in her school and her tiny town when her Instagram post goes viral.

Thousands of miles away in NYC, a tawdry group of “professional” thespians sees this post and decides that something must be done for the tragic little Indiana lesbian. They devise a hilarious scheme, not unlike an old I Love Lucy episode, to help the girl and to redeem themselves in the meantime. The Broadway actors, accused of being narcissistic (something they repudiate), decide they need to support a good cause to save their reputations, and Instagram just shed some light on how they can redeem themselves.

The Prom’s large cast size of 23 is challenged for space in SMCT’s snug black box theatre, but the smart, compact set design by Amanda Parrota and creative choreography (also by Parrota) handles that obstacle swimmingly.

Costumes designed especially for the lead characters by local designer Randal Sumabat are spectacular and sometimes hilarious!

Our heroine is played with verisimilitude by Andrea Hilbrandt, who brings the brave Emma to life with a charming authenticity. Emma’s love Alyssa, played sweetly and skillfully by Angelica Juenke, brings her wild-eyed fear of her mother into direct conflict with her strong feelings for Emma.

Jason Sumabat, playing one of the Broadway actors, reminds us of the glory days of theatre with his booming voice, regal speeches, and animated flamboyance. Aiyani Mersai, done up to the nines, gives DeeDee, another of the pros, an air of perfection. She delivers a belting voice and a beautiful stage presence, both of which are off the charts.

Other standout performances include Sarah Ruth Smith—with a great voice and killer legs—as the kindest thespian; Irene Dahmen as the uppity, hysterical PTA president; and Lauren Marszalkowski and Isabel Skene playing sisters-from-other-misters bff cheerleaders.

Chorus and cast sing out strong and clear and are pleasing to the ear.

The Prom‘s entire cast and crew execute a delightful romp while exploring timely themes in the ever-changing world of modern-day relationships.

:: Sonya Jackson