It is not too much of stretch to imagine Meryl Streep and her pal Nicole Kidman starring in a new, old-fashioned musical, yet seeing Keegan-Michael Key in the ensemble is unexpected - but welcome, nonetheless. However, those women are not the only veterans to the genre and the comedian is far from the last surprise in The Prom cast.
Directed by Glee co-creator Ryan Murphy, the film is based on a Tony-nominated hit stage show of the same name that was actually inspired by a heartwarming true story. It focuses on an Indiana teenager whose plea to take her girlfriend to the annual school dance convinces the conservative school board to cancel the event entirely. Upon hearing the news, a quartet of theater actors suffering from their own personal crises decide to give the lonely student a chance to be herself by organizing their own prom.
The bright, lavish, and socially-conscious comedy is a bit of a return to what made Ryan Murphy a household name before delving into darker territory with American Horror Story or Ratched, but for the star-studded cast, some are clearly enjoying a return to the musical scene while others are relishing in their first taste of it. So, just in time for The Prom’s premiere in theaters and on Netflix Friday, December 11, take a look at where you may recognize The Prom's talented cast, staring with one living legend who needs no introduction.
Meryl Streep (Dee Dee Allen)
Playing self-proclaimed “cultural disruptor” and self-obsessed Broadway star Dee Dee Allen in The Prom is far from Meryl Streep’s first song and dance. The three-time Oscar-winning star of Sophie’s Choice, The Post, and Steven Soderbergh’s new HBO Max exclusive Let Them All Talk got her start in theatre, which she would revisit on the big screen for cinematic adaptations of shows like Mamma Mia! (and its sequel) and Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Into the Woods, as remade by Disney.
James Corden (Barry Glickman)
Said Into the Woods movie also starred James Corden as the Baker and Narrator, but, in addition to hosting the Tony Awards twice and playing Bustopher Jones in 2019’s Cats, that is merely the tip of the iceberg for his Broadway experience prior to playing performer Barry Glickman, who, like the young central character of The Prom, was rejected from his school dance as a teen, too. The British comedian has also hosted The Late Late Show on CBS since 2015 and will reprise the animated title role of the sequel to 2018’s Peter Rabbit in April 2021.
Nicole Kidman (Angie Dickinson)
The Prom is actually Nicole Kidman’s third collaboration with Meryl Streep after The Hours (which earned her an Oscar) and Big Little Lies (which earned her an Emmy) and her fourth musical film after 2001’s Moulin Rouge!, 2006’s animated Happy Feet, and 2009’s Nine. To continue our numerical theme here, the Netflix film is also the Australian actress’ second LGBT-themed film in two years after playing the unaccepting mother of a young gay man in Boy Erased and easily her funniest project within that time, as well, having done mostly dark dramas like Destroyer, Bombshell, and HBO miniseries The Undoing. However, that period also saw the Batman Forever star return to comic book flicks as Jason Momoa’s mom in Aquaman.
Andrew Rannells (Trent Oliver)
Andrew Rannells stars opposite comic book movie star Don Cheadle on Showtime’s Black Monday, but playing theatre actor Trent Oliver is a return to his roots, having led a stage career for years before his breakthrough role in The Book of Mormon - the Tony-winning musical from the creators of South Park. The openly gay Nebraskan also has an extensive voice acting career (including Pokémon), made his live action TV debut on HBO’s Girls, and has worked with The Prom director Ryan Murphy several times before, including playing himself on Glee’s series finale and one-half of a same-sex couple looking to adopt a child in the short-lived comedy The New Normal.
Kerry Washington (Mrs. Greene)
The role of homophobic PTA head Mrs. Greene in The Prom is Kerry Washington’s first role in a musical, having made her non-musical Broadway debut late after an extensive film and TV career, including Save the Last Dance, Boston Public, and playing The Thing’s blind love interest, Alicia Masters, in two Fantastic Four movies. It was in 2012 when the Little Fires Everywhere star achieved household name status as the Emmy-nominated lead of Shonda Rhimes’ political drama Scandal and reuniting with her Ray co-star Jamie Foxx in Quentin Tarantino’s pre-Civil War revenge western Django Unchained.
Keegan-Michael Key (Principal Tom Hawkins)
I may have said earlier that Keegan-Michael Key being in The Prom cast was surprising, but it is actually his second Netflix original musical this year after Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey. However, The Lion King star’s role as an open-minded high school principal is a far cry from his overtly disciplinary character Mr. Garvey on Key & Peele - the popular sketch show he created and headlined with his former MadTV co-star Jordan Peele, whom he has also shared the big screen with in Keanu and Toy Story 3, to name a few so far.
Jo Ellen Pellman (Emma Nolan)
Persecuted lesbian teen Emma Nolan is the feature film debut of 24-year-old Jo Ellen Pellman, who is no stranger to the screen having appeared on HBO’s The Deuce and the Emmy-winning Amazon Prime original The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel in 2019. However, what convinced Ryan Murphy to cast the openly gay actress as the lead of The Prom was her background in theatre, which includes productions at Walnut Hills High and the University of Michigan and a stint at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts studying Shakespeare.
Ariana DeBose (Alyssa Greene)
An extensive background in theatre is also what earned Ariana DeBose the role of the Alyssa, the closeted girlfriend of Emma Nolan and daughter of Mrs. Greene, in The Prom. The 29-year-old was in the ensemble for the 2011 cast of Stephen Sondheim’s Company (which also including Neil Patrick Harris and Stephen Colbert) years before playing “The Bullet” in Lin Manuel Miranda’s blockbuster history lesson set to rap, Hamilton. Audiences could have also seen DeBose sing and dance this year as Anita in Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story remake if not for Covid-19 causing it to be delayed for December 2021.
Tracey Ullman (Vera Glickman)
Other than my assumption that Vera Glickman must be related to James Corden’s character, I cannot find much about fellow Into the Woods star Tracey Ullman’s supposedly original role in The Prom. I imagine it will be a big deal once officially revealed, however, since her vast stage credits, Emmy-winning sketch comedy series (which The Simpsons is spun-off from), and spots in films like Robin Hood: Men in Tights and TV projects like the FX miniseries Mrs. America have made the 60-year-old British comedian one of the most celebrated women in entertainment.
Mary Kay Place (Grandma Bea)
Also a prolific figure in the industry is Mary Kay Place, who actually had worked previously with a few of her The Prom co-stars (namely Meryl Streep and Andrew Rannells in various projects) before playing Emma Nolan’s grandmother, Bea. Among the multi-talented actress, writer, producer, and director’s most notable credits are playing Meg in the classic ensemble dramedy The Big Chill, a distraught cuckquean in Girl, Interrupted, and the mother of Michael Cera’s crush in Youth in Revolt from 2009.
Kevin Chamberlin (Sheldon Saperstein)
Starring as Sheldon Saperstein is fellow theater-trained, Tony-nominated actor Kevin Chamberlin, whom you may not recognize by name, but have probably seen somewhere without realizing it. The 57-year-old Baltimore native made his feature film debut as an NYPD bomb squad specialist in Die Hard with a Vengeance, played a bouncer named Frank in Sam Mendes’ Road to Perdition, and had a recurring role on Heroes. He also played Gavel in The Emoji Movie alongside his The Prom co-star James Corden, but his best-known role to date might be as the Ross Family’s butler Bertram on the Debbie Ryan-led Disney Channel original series Jessie.
Logan Riley (Kaylee)
Alyssa Greene’s cheerleading squad, Kaylee (who was originally named “Mandy” in the 2016 off-Broadway run of The Prom), is played by Logan Riley. The 21-year-old actress, dancer, and model, has previously been credited under her full name (Logan Riley Hassel) in her most notable appearances, such as a love interest to Manny Rodriguez on a Season 4 episode of Modern Family and popular Bayview High School clique member Sienna on Netflix’s original Full House spin-off Fuller House.
Nico Greetham (Nick Boomer)
Playing Kaylee’s love interest is Nico Greetham, who landed his first big break as a contestant on So You Think You Can Dance in 2013 before starring in a Broadway revival of Newsies, earning a small part on Glee, and a starring role on Power Rangers Ninja Steel as one of the yellow rangers. Playing Nick Boomer in The Prom is easily the 25-year-old’s biggest role to date, despite an uncredited as appearance as a “Young Goon” in Birds of Prey in 2020.
What do you think? Are you more excited to the theatrical veterans or the rising stars in the cast of The Prom? Let us know in the comments and be sure to check back for additional information and updates on this fun musical event, as well as even more inside looks at the cast members of your movies and TV shows, here on CinemaBlend.
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Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in almost any article about Batman.