Chanhassen Dinner Theaters presents, The Prom


Photo by Dan Norman, 2023

Paige Schuller, Staff Writer

Looking to burst out of the Macalester bubble for an evening of fun? This spring, Chanhassen Dinner Theatres (CDT) presents the Tony-nominated Broadway musical, “The Prom!” The show opened last Friday, Feb. 17 and is scheduled to run through June 10. The hilarious and heart-warming show is a call for compassion and acceptance and a reminder of the joys of immersing oneself in the spectacle of live theater. 

For over 50 years, CDT has provided the community with a unique experience: table-side dinner service and a spectacular show. Since opening in 1968, the theatre has produced over 240 performances and is currently the nation’s largest professional dinner theater. Over the weekend, I experienced this memorable experience for the first time, and I was thoroughly impressed by the care in which the staff at CDT created an inviting atmosphere. Upon my arrival at the theater, the host asked, “What are we celebrating tonight?” which captured the spirit of the audience. The theater was packed with people, all there for various reasons. Whether they were families celebrating a birthday, friends out for a night of fun or college students reviewing the show for their student-run, independent newspaper, CDT had a seating arrangement planned out with a seat for everyone. The staff were charismatic and helpful, and the food and drinks were indulgent; it was perfect for a special night out. This friendly dining atmosphere perfectly set the tone for the show, which focuses on the importance of fostering communities in which all are welcome.

Photo by Dan Norman, 2023

“The Prom” centers around highschooler Emma (played by Monty Hays) who just wants to take her girlfriend Alyssa (played by Maya Richardson) to prom. The students attend high school in a  conservative, small town in Indiana, where the Parent Teacher Association would rather shut down the prom than let a queer couple attend. When four washed-up Broadway stars learn of this incident, they jump at the opportunity to protest. Selfishly motivated to improve their public image, they sing and dance their way to Indiana with the goal of preaching acceptance and equality to the rural, close-minded people they expect to find there. With help from Emma’s socially-conscious, theater-loving principal Mr. Hawkins (played by Joe Nathan Thomas), the stars are introduced to the complicated socioeconomic factors at play in rural small towns. This results in the out-of-touch celebrities learning a thing or two about acting out of compassion for others. 

Photo by Dan Norman, 2023

The cast delivered wonderful performances. Standing out was Tod Petersen, who plays Barry Glickman, a broadway actor who did not have the chance to go to prom in his youth. It was heartwarming to see his character form a relationship with Emma. Their bond illustrates the support and guidance the older and younger generations of the LGBTQ community can provide for each other. The show had great energy and was full of humor that had audience members of all ages laughing. The whole experience was immersive, the perfect show to see in the context of dinner theatre. From the flashy colorful costumes to the show-stopping song and dance numbers, “The Prom” echoes the sentiments of Principal Hawkins: “theatre is an escape.”  

In the spirit of fostering this feeling of inclusivity, CDT is now inviting students to experience the novelty of dinner and a show at a reduced price. Student nights will take place on Wednesdays, in which ticket prices will be $40 for students. This initiative allows young people to experience a night of swanky dinner theatre and could not come with a better show than “The Prom,” which is enjoyable for adults both young and old, (although CDT recommends that the content of this show is best suited for ages 11 and up). For more information about “The Prom” and future productions, head to