Tony-nominated musical The Prom makes Canadian debut in Winnipeg

A Winnipeg theatre company wants to know if you’ll be coming to The Prom this week. 

Dry Cold Productions is putting on the Canadian premiere of The Prom — a Tony Award-nominated musical dealing with acceptance and LGBTQ rights  — starting Tuesday night at Manitoba Theatre For Young People. 

“I think a lot of times Winnipeg, Manitoba, gets overlooked by bigger cities,” Joseph Sevillo, a performer in the show, said Sunday. “We’ve proven year by year that many professionals are trained here, they grow up here doing the professional circuit and they land contracts all across Canada.” 

“So, I think it’s really exciting that we get that kind of focus here in the province that we do have the talent, we do have the teams to be able to produce such an exciting national premiere.”

The Prom follows four down on their luck, Broadway performers who are looking for a new stage after another one of their shows closed on opening night, according to its online program.

This leads them to Emma, a graduating student in small-town Indiana, who wants to bring her girlfriend to prom. This is looked down on by the community, but when the Broadway quartet finds out about the issue through a trending tweet, they feel compelled to help out.

The Prom was also turned into a Netflix film in 2020, but Justin Stadnyk, another local performer in the show, said this can be used as a tool and doesn’t put any constraints on the performance. 

“If you’re getting something thrown at you from a scene partner that’s different than anything you’ve seen, say in the Netflix thing or if you’ve happened to see the Broadway production, you can’t help but respond to that in the moment,” he said. 

Sevillo and Stadnyk’s connection as performers is deeper than just being among a number of local cast members starring together in the show as the two both went to Grant Park High School. Sevillo said this will be their sixth time being in the same show, though the two haven’t worked together since 2010. 

“This is actually quite special because change is inevitable, we grow as people,” he said. “The people we were back then are not necessarily the people we are now, but there is still that similarity and the history we have that makes this experience so special.”

The Prom runs from May 16-21 at The Forks. It features an array of local cast members, including some that are part of an apprentice program that has allowed them to be part of the show, Stadnyk said. 

And Sevillo hopes audiences that watch the show will create meaningful dialogue in their own lives. 

“I want people to really embrace finding their voice and being able to speak their truth,” said Sevillo.

“I definitely want families when they watch this, because it is geared toward around ages 12 and up … I want this show to really start a dialogue between family and friends about acceptance and tolerance within their circles.”