‘The Prom’ evaluation: Director Ryan Murphy unleashes his stars in a infectious, high-energy musical

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Director Ryan Murphy is not identified for understatement, however a minimum of right here he is on turf nearer to “Glee” than “American Horror Story.” Perhaps foremost, he has supplied a best-seat-in-the-house view of the 2018 Tony-nominated musical, blowing it as much as ranges that would not be potential on stage and might barely be accommodated on a TV display.

The hook of Chad Beguelin, Bob Martin and Matthew Sklar’s manufacturing hinges on a group of self-involved Broadway performers who descend on a small Indiana city, on the lookout for an activist trigger and “some little injustice” to handle — in search of the nice publicity that may save their present after a disastrous opening. They choose serving to Emma (Jo Ellen Pellman), whose announcement that she wished to convey one other woman to the promenade as her date prompted the homophobic PTA president (Kerry Washington) to cancel the occasion totally.

Ellen’s uninvited benefactors, nevertheless, have bother initially placing the woman’s pursuits first, whereas offering a digital clinic on showbiz insecurities and self-obsession. The brightest gentle amongst them, naturally, is Meryl Streep’s Dee Dee, an imperious star with a contact of Norma Desmond in her, who tries to improve her three-star lodge room by brandishing one in every of her conveniently-packed Tonys.

Dee Dee’s companions embrace her co-star Barry (James Corden, in an “Into the Woods” reunion), refrain woman Angie (Nicole Kidman) and the less-heralded Trent (Andrew Rannells), who name-drops attending Julliard inside minutes of assembly anybody. They’re aided by the college’s progressive principal (Keegan-Michael Key), an avid Broadway fan, and fewer so by Emma’s girlfriend (Ariana DeBose), who’s extra apprehensive about popping out.

The present options some stunning and buoyant songs — “It’s Time to Dance” among the many latter — however “The Prom” actually sparkles with its show-business-insider touches and theater references. Those vary from Streep’s preening star (her singing voice has by no means sounded higher, by the way) to Rannells asserting, “We are liberals from Broadway,” which the locals deal with just like the arrival of flying monkeys in “The Wizard of Oz.”

Whatever the big-name contingent would possibly lack, the youthful gamers compensate for with splendidly energetic song-and-dance numbers and true Broadway belts. Granted, the underlying themes about bridging cultural and geographic divides feels a tad simplistic in the present local weather, however the film is totally unabashed concerning the wishful facet of that — a bit like Murphy’s alternate historical past in “Hollywood” — in a means that compensates for its not-exactly-light contact.

“We’re still celebrities,” Barry says reassuringly as these crushing early critiques pour in. “We still have power.”

“The Prom” is certainly a demonstration of star energy at work, nevertheless it’s principally a valentine to theater — at a time when theaters are closed — coupled with an overt message about LGBTQ acceptance and inclusion. All of that comes wrapped in a massive neon bow, a joyous vacation reward for followers of musical theater, made by individuals who love the medium each bit as a lot as they do.

“The Prom” premieres Dec. 11 on Netflix.

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