Riverhead High School Blue Masques present ‘The Prom’ this weekend

A high school student wants to take her girlfriend to the prom — and controversy ensues.

So goes the plot of “The Prom,” a groundbreaking, heartwarming musical comedy that will be staged by the Riverhead High School Blue Masques this weekend.

The musical, which debuted on Broadway in 2018, tells the story of trouble that brews in a rural Indiana town when teenager Emma Nolan (portrayed by Riverhead’s Ava Sidik) asks another girl to the big dance. When the PTA cancels the event altogether in response, four washed-up Broadway actors descend upon the town to confront the cause head on.

At a dress rehearsal Monday, director Laura Nitti said the students have been rehearsing for the show since November. She is thrilled with their progress on what she referred to as a technically challenging production with showy, showstopping numbers and laugh-out-loud moments that also tackles real-world issues.

“Theater to me has always been a place where you have to be accepting and open to be able to do the craft at all,” Ms. Nitti said. “Everybody knows that if you come here, it is a safe space.”


The story is loosely based on true events. In 2010, a school district in Itawamba County, Miss. faced backlash after it refused to allow a lesbian student to take her girlfriend to prom. After the event was canceled, students and parents organized a secret prom that she was not invited to.

“I was completely taken aback by how powerful of a show it can be,” said Riverhead senior Avery Rubino, who portrays the fictional Broadway actor Dee Dee Allen. “It spreads so many messages, from acceptance to loving yourself, to not loving yourself too much that you’re a narcissist. I think everyone’s going to leave really touched.” 

Riverhead is the first high school on Long Island to stage the production, which won a Drama Desk Award for outstanding musical in 2019 before closing on Broadway. It was adapted into a Netflix film starring Meryl Streep, James Corden, Ariana DeBose and Keegan Michael Key the following year.

John Ellis, who portrays Barry Glickman, another of the washed-up Broadway stars, hopes the show resonates with audiences.

“It’s such a fun show with a really powerful message alongside the big Broadway appeal,” he said. “You have these really fun numbers, but also a really strong message that people should take home with them.”


For senior Olivia Meyer, who plays Mrs. Greene, the PTA president and mother of the girl Emma wants to take to the dance, the show is ultimately about love and acceptance.

“I think parents especially — and anyone who loves someone — will understand that all they ever want to do is protect the people they love,” she said. “You should always just let everyone be who they want to be no matter what.”

Performances of “The Prom” will be held at the Riverhead High School auditorium on Thursday, March 23, Friday, March 24 and Saturday, March 25 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, March 26 at 2 p.m.

Tickets ($15 for general admission, $5 for Riverhead students with ID) are available at the door or in advance online at