Students save LGBTQ+ school musical in last-minute twist worthy of Broadway

Students at a New Jersey school have overcome the odds to stage a performance of LGBTQ+ musical The Prom.

Students at Cedar Grove High School had decided to stage The Prom, based on the true story of a lesbian student who was banned from taking her girlfriend to prom, for their spring musical.

But earlier in October, alum Rebecca Altschul and school adviser shared a post to Facebook admitting: “We’re having a little situation with our spring musical”. 

“After seeing it a few years ago and learning that it was now available for schools to produce, the students themselves chose this musical,” Altschul wrote.

We would actually be the New Jersey high school premiere.

“But we have just been informed that the administration would not like us to move forward due to ‘community concern’ over the themes.”

The “community concern” centred on the lesbian characters, LGBTQ Nation reported.

“The students, who feel this show is a representation of themselves and were so excited to have a chance to work on it, are now obviously a mix of devastated and angry at the news and immediately asked ‘what can we do?’,” Altschul continued.

Altschul’s post sparked outrage over the apparent censorship from students, parents and the queer community.

But in a twist worthy of Broadway, the musical will go ahead after a “family-friendly” version was offered by the musical’s publishers.

In an email to parents, the school’s superintendent, Anthony Grosso, wrote: “After further inquiry with the licensing organisation, we were informed that a High School Edition of The Prom just became available.

“Therefore, Cedar Grove Public Schools fully supports producing the High School Edition of the musical The Prom, which was not previously available at the time of licensing.”

Grosso added that the “junior version” of The Prom will allow the school “to continue to produce the show at a level that allows our students to express their creativity through the art of performance”.

The Prom follows a group of theatre stars who travel to a Conservative Indiana town in support of a high school girl who is barred from taking her girlfriend to the prom. 

It is inspired by the true story of lesbian student Constance McMillen, whose Mississippi school cancelled its prom rather than allow her to wear a tuxedo and arrive with her girlfriend. 

Following the event being cancelled, the school told students they should organise their own private event, which McMillen was banned from attending. McMillen sued her school district for violating her First Amendment Rights and won. 

The 2018 Tony-nominated show was turned into a movie in 2020 by Ryan Murphy and starring Meryl Streep, James Corden and Nicole Kidman.