The Student News Site of University Prep

The Puma Press

The Student News Site of University Prep

The Puma Press

The Student News Site of University Prep

The Puma Press

Casting Concerns

‘The Prom’ prompts discussion about LGBTQ+ representation
Manola+Rubiralta+%28left%29%2C+who+plays+Alyssa+Greene+dances+with+Sophie+Harris+%28right%29%2C+who+plays+Emma+Nolan%2C+the+main+character.+The+Prom+follows+four+struggling+Broadway+actors+as+they+travel+to+the+small+town+of+Edgewater%2C+Indiana+in+order+to+help+high+school+student+Nolan+go+to+prom+with+her+girlfriend.+%0A
Photo: Hannah Salemy
Manola Rubiralta (left), who plays Alyssa Greene dances with Sophie Harris (right), who plays Emma Nolan, the main character. The Prom follows four struggling Broadway actors as they travel to the small town of Edgewater, Indiana in order to help high school student Nolan go to prom with her girlfriend.
Graphics credit: Avi Patel and Hannah Salemy

“The Prom”, University Prep’s fall musical, sold out all three nights and centered around the topic of LGBTQ+ equality.
“This was such a wonderfully entertaining show while being just the right amount of political,” theater teacher Abby Nathan said.
When it comes to acting, both in theater and in film, there are many LGBTQ+ roles available. However, many of these roles are filled by actors who are not part of the LGBTQ+ community, some of whom have won awards for their performances. These successes have sparked controversy around whether or not an actor should play a role they do not identify with.
LGBTQ+ actors were not a factor at UPrep. Nathan confirmed that when casting, they kept more practical considerations in mind.
“The biggest factor is making sure the students, because they’re young and their voices are still developing, can just hit the notes,” Nathan said.
“During the casting process, our directors were very clear of like, we’re not going to cast based off of your race, your sex, your gender or anything like that,” said a cast member who prefers to remain anonymous.
While representation in theater is important, casting choices are not nearly as consequential in a high school performance, according to ninth grader Mac Chandler who played the role of Barry Glickman.
“I think when it comes to high school productions like this, it’s not that big of a deal, mainly because we’re high schoolers, and also because there’s such a limited cast,” Chandler said.
In a more professional setting, LGBTQ+ representation in performances is a more serious subject according to UPrep actors.
“I think that it’s possible to find the right fit and people shouldn’t be going to straight actors just because of their name or their reputation,” Chandler said.
If it’s a Tony nominated show “Then it’s a very different topic,” said the other cast member. “But this is a high school, we’re doing this for fun.”
There have been many instances of straight actors playing LGBTQ+ characters and winning awards for those roles. These actors include Rami Malek, who won an Oscar for best actor in 2019 for his role as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody, and Natalie Portman, who won an Oscar for Best Actress in 2011 for her role as Nina Sayers in Black Swan.
“I do think it’s important to have communities represented by people who are part of that community,” Chandler said.
In terms of UPrep’s theater department, between a limited cast and various levels of acting experience, casting ultimately comes down to the actors’ abilities and dedication to the role.
“If you fully put yourself out there and go as hard as you can, sing your best, act your best, you deserve the role,” the anonymous cast member said.
According to Nathan, while the process of putting on this production was an incredibly exhausting operation for the cast and crew, it was also highly rewarding.
“It’s funny, but this show I never get tired of watching because, I personally think, the songs and script are that good,” Nathan said. “It’s a love letter to theater nerds like myself.”

 

 

Graphics credit: Avi Patel and Hannah Salemy
About the Contributor
Hannah Salemy, Reporter
Hannah Salemy is a reporter on the staff of the Puma Press. She is a ninth-grader and is new to the staff this year, but she was previously a reporter for the Puma Prints. She loves to write fun experimental stories for people to enjoy. Her favorite part of journalism is the people she gets to talk to and learn from. Outside of school, she enjoys soccer and writing poetry.