Ryan Murphy’s star-studded adaptation of The Prom lands on Netflix this week, but does it live up to the hype?
Musicals bring joy to the world. From prancing around your living room and failing to hit those high notes while watching The Sound Of Music, to happily sobbing along to the end scene of Moulin Rouge because it reminds you how powerful (albeit painful) love can be, a good musical lets you escape into another world and feel what you need to feel without judgment.
That’s why, at a time when we need hope, laughter, singing, sequins, sparkles and high kicks more than ever, Ryan Murphy’s adaptation of Broadway hit The Prom has landed on Netflix at just the right time. With Broadway and the West End currently trying to recover after sitting in silent darkness for so long this year, it’s the ultimate ode to the theatre stage. And the fact that it’s one big celebration of LGBTQ+ rights is the icing on the cake.
The story follows Dee Dee Allen, a Tony award-winner who teams up with Barry Glickman to work on a flop musical about Eleanor Roosevelt. After terrible reviews, the pair decide to champion a cause to resurrect their careers with the help of fellow failing Broadway stars Angie Dickinson and Trent Oliver.
They come across a girl called Emma, a high school senior who isn’t allowed to take her girlfriend Alyssa to the prom because of homophobic school policies in her hometown, and rally to give Emma a night where she can truly celebrate who she is.
Meryl Streep is, of course, the star of the show here, poking fun at her own superstar status to play the narcissistic Dee Dee. Nicole Kidman is having the time of her life playing perennial chorus girl, Angie, who isn’t at all bitter over being robbed of her one leading role chance. Andrew Rannells, who originally shot to fame on Broadway’s The Book Of Mormon, is totally at home as sharp-tongued Trent (in fact, it’s a pity he gets the least amount of time in the spotlight). And James Corden… well, there’s been some criticism about a straight actor “leaning into effeminate gay stereotypes” to play the role of Barry.
On the whole, the lead cast is wonderful together, but they don’t outshine the real stars of the movie: Jo Ellen Pellman as highschool outcast Emma and Ariana Debose as popular girl Alyssa who is secretly dating Emma.
Sure, it’s not exactly perfect. There’s not really a clear plan for how the stars can help Emma, it’s just a little bit too long (the two proms we witness are more than enough for one night’s viewing) and Corden’s questionable performance might stop you from fully enjoying it.
But there are some truly fun, heartbreaking, toe-tapping and bold moments. And let’s not forget the catchy songs that you’ll be humming afterwards – We Look To You is a heartwarming thank you to everyone who makes live theatre happen, while the ensemble’s It’s Time To Dance in the last scene is a tune with a poignant LGBTQ+ message.
We might be relegated to watching The Prom on a screen at home right now, but it will make you hungry for the world of live productions when the glittering stage lights are switched back on next year.
You can watch The Prom on Netflix now.
Hollie is a digital writer at Stylist.co.uk, mainly covering the daily news on women’s issues, politics, celebrities and entertainment. She also keeps an ear out for the best podcast episodes to share with readers. Oh, and don’t even get her started on Outlander…