An Interview with Director Paul Daigneault

An Interview with Director Paul Daigneault

August 16, 2022

Briefly, what is The Prom all about?
The Prom tells the story of four self-absorbed Broadway veterans, who, in an effort to revitalize their flagging careers, head to Indiana to help a young girl named Emma take her girlfriend to the prom of their dreams.

Why did you decide to include The Prom in your 22-23 Season?
I am a big fan of musical comedy, and it’s not often that you get a chance to produce a musical that is both laugh-out-loud funny and also has something to say.  I have to admit that, when I was first considered doing The Prom, I wondered if the story of a queer kid in Indiana not being able to go to their prom was dated, if America was past that. But now, with what’s going on in the news, specifically with things like “Don’t Say ‘Gay'” in Florida, I actually think the story of The Prom is both surprisingly and disappointingly relevant, and will make for some great conversation.  

Why did you decide to direct this show and make The Prom your project for the season?
I think in addition to the above, I personally was looking for a really fun project to take on this year. My last project was the seven-hour, two-part epic The Inheritance, and I haven’t directed a musical since The View UpStairs before the pandemic. So I really wanted to do something that was joyful and fun this year. And I also love directing comedy, and mining the script for the honesty and stakes that anchor the comedy in truth.  

What do you think is the biggest challenge in directing this show?
I think it is going to be hugely important to make sure we show the three-dimensional, textured wants and needs of these characters and not offer up any stereotypes or cardboard cut-outs. It is especially important that the older characters, the theater vets, come off as more than just self-absorbed narcissists, although there is an element of that. I think my job will be to really dive in and find the truth of what all these characters are going through.  

Also, The Prom a show that demands strong, skilled dancing: and I am excited to be working with choreographer Taavon Gamble, who appeared in our production of The Scottsboro Boys. Taavon really gets the style of the show, and I am excited to see what he comes up with.  

What do you say to folks who may be on the fence about seeing your production of The Prom since they saw the Netflix movie?
As much as I enjoyed the film, I think the theater version is much, much better. As happens often when stage shows are adapted for film, some elements get changed or dropped to fit the needs of the production. Also, I think The Prom is in part about theater people, folks who come alive when they are on stage; and as such I think the show should be seen on stage.

What do you hope folks take away from seeing The Prom?
One of the most rewarding parts of directing our production of Fun Home was hearing from people who were perhaps seeing their stories, their lives up on stage for the very first time. That was very moving to me; so with The Prom, I do hope that we will reach younger people who might also be going through what Emma is going through, and help them realize that they are not alone.  

But, to be honest, after all we have been through as a community and a nation these past few years, I just want people to laugh and have fun. I hope everyone will come see The Prom!

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