With a funding flap now behind them, officials at the Grand Theatre are getting ready to bring Prom Queen: The Musical to the stage this September.
The musical is based on the true story of Marc Hall, a gay Oshawa student who fought to bring his boyfriend to his high school prom back in 2002.
The Grand Theatre hosted a special launch event on Wednesday morning.
Hall attended the event and spoke about his experience.
“It’s been a few emotional weeks for me because it is very reminiscent of what happened in 2002,” said Hall.
More than 15 years ago, Hall’s school told him he wasn’t allowed to bring his boyfriend to prom. It’s similar, he said, to how London’s Catholic and public school boards pulled funding for the project in January, citing inappropriate language and concerns over the script.
The community rallied to raise more than $58,000 to make up for the funding shortfall.
“The overwhelming generosity was incredible. On the crowdfunding campaign, you can actually go in and see the comments from people who have donated and it’s touching,” said Hall.
Soon after, the Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB) reinstated its $15,000 commitment.
“I’m very happy the TVDSB reversed their decision and acknowledged their mistake,” said Hall.
“I think that sends a very positive message for the LGBTQ students there.”
Thanks to the money raised, the Grand Theatre will be able to hold two additional matinees that’ll be free for students.
The London Catholic District School Board (LCDSB) has stood by its decision not to fund the play.
Auditions for the much anticipated high school production will get underway in the spring. Selections are set to take place in April and May, with rehearsals starting in August.
“We always have over 100 students who audition for about 50 roles that get on stage,” said Deb Harvey, executive director at the Grand Theatre.
“We have about 20 to 30 students who interview for positions backstage. They’re in wardrobe, props, scenic art, and there are musicians in the pit,” she said.
Since the play is about high school students, both Hall and Harvey agree having high school students play the parts is ideal.
“I hope Prom Queen speaks to the students and to everyone in general,” said Hall.
“[I hope it shows them] that you should stand up for yourself, that you won’t be alone if you face these kinds of struggles and there will be people there to support you,” he said.
It costs the Grand Theatre anywhere from $250,000 to $300,000 to put on the High School Project each year.
Tickets for Prom Queen went on sale on Wednesday at 12 p.m.
The show will run from Sept. 19 to 28.