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The Prom musical fights queer phobia with song and dance

Nuova Vocal Arts tackles a musical comedy production based on a real-life event
St. Albert Rotary Music Festival scholarship recipient, Daphne Charrois, has nabbed the lead role in The Prom, a Nuova Vocal Arts production.

Grade 12 graduation is supposed to be a happy milestone in every high school student’s life. It’s a special sendoff that says goodbye to childhood as a new phase of life begins. Reality, however, is rarely that smooth. 

The Prom, a Nuova Vocal Arts musical comedy production, was inspired by the real-life event of a queer teenage girl who sued her Mississippi school over a ban on same-sex prom dates. 

In the real-life event, celebrities such as Lance Bass and Green Day rallied on social media to support the girl and sponsor a “Second-Chance” prom.  

On the stage version, the action starts in New York, where four down-on-their-luck actors decide to remake their self-centred image by supporting a cause. Dee Dee Allen and Barry Glickman are two unlikeable, self-absorbed Broadway stars whose latest musical closes opening night because of stinging reviews.  

Determined to champion a cause as a public relations fix, the duo invites Trent, a Julliard graduate waiting tables and Angie, a chorus girl in Chicago whose dream of playing Roxy Hart never materialized, to join them. 

They scroll through social media, and find Emma, a teenager in Indiana whose prom was cancelled because she wanted to bring Alyssa, her girlfriend. Armed with a mistaken belief in their celebrity to influence lives, they see Emma’s infringed rights as a way to redeem themselves. 

The showbiz foursome hitches a ride on a Godspell tour bus and travel to Indiana to confront the homophobic community. But all their best-laid plans hit a snag. 

Daphne Charrois, winner of St. Albert’s Rotary Music Festival 2019 Lyle Moore Scholarship, landed the lead role of Emma, a complex and determined romantic young woman. 

Originally from Legal, Charrois completed New York’s American Musical and Dramatic Academy training in 2021. Following graduation, she signed two contracts as lead vocalist singing Broadway charts on a cruise line. She was offered a third contract, but returned to her stomping grounds in 2023. 

“Emma is a 17-year-old lesbian ostracized by her community. As a queer woman, this is an exciting opportunity for me. I’ve never played an LGBTQIA2S+ role before,” said Charrois. “There’s a great deal of excitement about this show, which is clearly full of joy. It celebrates love and acceptance, especially in Alberta’s current political climate.” 

Interestingly, similarities between Charrois and Emma are few. Charrois describes herself as a “girly girl who likes pink,” whereas Emma is a tomboy who would favour a tuxedo over a dress. Charrois also learned to play guitar for this role. 

“But I feel so close with this role. I’ve done so much digging and character building. She came out at 16 and her parents disowned her. She lives with her grandmother. She’s very much a strong personality, the opposite of Alyssa. She’s had to grow up quickly.”  

She credits director Kim Mattice Wanat for helping actors navigate difficult scenes and encouraging them to dig deep into their character. 

“She’s so good at getting to the heart of them. I am immersed in the project, and I thought I knew where I wanted to go. But she gave me a different angle to look at and its way better. She provides you with little bits that add up and make the performance better.”  

As with all Nuova Vocal Arts productions, the sound is fast-paced and crisp. Several songs in that realm are The Acceptance Song, a funny, over-the-top campy number; The Night Belongs to You, an emotional and equally upbeat, catchy song, as well as Barry Goes to the Prom, where Barry finally gets to enjoy the prom he never had. 

“This is such a feel-good show. It’s a comedy. You will laugh so hard. It’s a show that celebrates love and people for who they are. You see joy onstage,and it will put a smile on your face.” 

The Prom runs at Varscona Theatre from April 4 to 7. Tickets are $31.68 at   

Anna Borowiecki

About the Author: Anna Borowiecki

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