The junction where heart, mind, soul, customs, values, instincts and secular culture intersect is a crossroads not unfamiliar to inhabitants of the Western world in the 21st century. In the 20th century, at least during its first half, figurative and often rigid societal lines were drawn in the sand for all but the heartiest of rebels to cross and attempt to defy. But one could presuppose those boundaries and, essentially, that life script, have been categorically disassembled over the last fifty years in mainstream cities and towns since Civil Rights marches and Human Rights commissions have been integrated into our collective lexicons rather effortlessly. However, one would be arguably mistaken as there always seems to be another previously held taboo just lying in wait to stoke the fires of public debate right around the next corner. This is what Ontario teenager Marc Hall encountered when he turned down a boulevard of intolerance and remnants of Old World establishment in 2002 while aspiring to take his boyfriend to the graduation dance at his Catholic High School.
Director Marcia Kash not only brilliantly helms the story that topped headlines internationally some fifteen years ago, but it’s a dazzling out-of-the-gate production never performed before anywhere else, and the Segal Centre delivers it with humanity, with gusto, and with awe-inspiring musical numbers and dance routines that no one, least of all Marc, could have foreseen then. Kash expertly focuses on the issue at hand without ever losing the joy that often accompanies (or at least precedes) heartbreak, the hope that often accompanies sadness, and the humanity that often accompanies controversy and the winds of change. She is helped along by a phenomenal cast including a star turn by Alessandro Costantini as Hall, who just wants to dance the night away with the young man he loves and never loses his exuberance and positive outlook, even when things seem bleakest. He is essentially a Don Quixote of sorts for the MTV and Internet generation, though he by no means sets out to be. As another famous hero of many once said, life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.
Plans were made exquisitely in this production with regards to ace choreography and top-notch musical direction (by acclaimed, highly sought talents Sean Cheesman and Mark Camilleri, respectively). The set design of John C. Dinning is majestically suited to take you into the world of what these characters are experiencing, the songs – put together masterfully by composer Colleen Dauncey and lyricist Akiva Romer-Segal – will make you want to return to your prom, or promptly organize a second one. A very Canadian story expertly written by Kent Staines, but a story that could easily have taken place in Switzerland or Scotland and all points in between – and probably has – is appealing universally to those with a heart, those who want to love and be loved, and those who want to live in a better world with acceptance and diversity.
Grab your date and head to Prom Queen: The Musical at the Segal Centre, running until November 20th. Visit segalcentre.org for more details or call 514-739-7944 .