Company of The Prom

Ashleigh Prince spoke with Shavey Brown from The Prom about the show, his family, his career and so much more. Read on for highlights from the interview, or listen to the full interview below. Tune in to Talk of the Commonwealth with Hank Stolz on WCRN 830AM Fridays at 9 AM and Saturdays at 1 PM for more behind-the-scenes interviews.

Ashleigh: Welcome back to Behind The Scenes at The Hanover Theatre. We’re here today with Shavey Brown, who plays Sheldon in The Prom. Hi, Shavey!  

Shavey: Hi, Ashleigh! How are you? 

Ashleigh: We’re doing great over here and we are so excited to have The Prom at The Hanover Theatre at the end of this month. Let me just say, we are waiting with bated breath for you guys to arrive! 

Shavey: Oh my gosh, you’re waiting, you’re waiting. Don’t pass out! 

The cast of The Prom are celebrating together, holding drinks up as they cheer with one another in nice clothing.
Company of <em>The Prom<em> in a joyous toast © Deen van Meer

Ashleigh: We are in the middle of a Broadway Blitz, and The Prom comes right at the end of that. I think it’s perfect timing, because who doesn’t want to end with a party? 

Shavey: It’s prom season around that time, so that’s a perfect doubleheader! Proms are usually in the springtime before school lets out, so it’s perfect. 

Ashleigh: It’s so funny because today, while we’re recording this interview on March 31, it’s National Prom Day. We’re going full force, full throttle, throwing ourselves into The Prom. I’m super excited because I saw The Prom in August of 2019 and it’s a fantastic show, so I’m really excited to experience it all over again. 

Shavey: Great, that’s going to be so much fun! That was a while ago, so now it’s going to be probably a brand-new show for you. 

Ashleigh: It really will. That was pre-pandemic, then the movie came out, so now this is going to be the third time I’m seeing this whole story unfold. I’m really excited! Before we jump into the nitty gritty of the show, let’s introduce you to our listeners. 

Emma (Kaden Kearney) and Alyssa (Kalyn West) are standing together in front of a brick wall at school. They're holding hands as they look at one another.
Company of <em>The Prom <em>© Deen van Meer

Shavey: I am Shavey Brown and I play Sheldon. I am the wisecracking PR agent for these four beautifully narcissistic actors. I try to handle all of their good and bad press while the show goes on and join them on this beautiful journey that we go through in The Prom. 

Ashleigh: It’s a great character, I’m a big fan. You have some great wisecracks in there that I live for. 

Shavey: There are some really fun wisecracks in there. It’s funny, I always think that Sheldon is kind of the voice of reason. He’s the person who’s like “We absolutely can do this, or we absolutely cannot do this.” He is the rational thinker, I would say. 

Ashleigh: Right! I know that I’ve seen the show compared to Hairspray meets Dear Evan Hansen. It’s really a coming-of-age story, so it reminds me of Netflix teen rom-coms a bit. It also reminds me of The Producers in that same wisecracking, quippy sort of way. 

Shavey: Very much so. There’s so many different shows combined in one into this great musical. I think the main thing with the show is that it’s so heartwarming at the same time. It has this beautiful message for everyone because everyone can relate to the story.

Ashleigh: According to the show info, this show is about a bunch of Broadway stars that are coming together to change the world and the love that bonds them all. Let’s give our audience a little bit more context as to what’s going on in the prom with Emma. 

Shavey: There is our lead, Emma. This girl wants to bring her girlfriend to the prom, but she lives in Indiana and gets denied that. So, these four narcissistic, crazy actors read the story on Twitter and in newspapers and think this will help them generate more popularity, thinking of themselves and not the cause. They go to this town thinking they’re going to change the world, and they do, but they get changed as well. I think it’s such a beautiful message, especially for today’s world we’re in and where we are with a lot of issues. Left versus right, invasions, we have states that are getting rid of saying the word gay in schools, so this show is so important to tell these stories. I think that’s the main message of this beautiful story.

Ashleigh: Yeah! When I saw the show, I noticed that Emma’s not really trying to be an icon or a trailblazer. She just wants to live her life, take her girlfriend to the prom and be able to love freely. I love the song that she sings about all of that, but I don’t want to give too much away. I do really love the way that Emma is like, “You know what? I’m going to do this my own way and I’m going to express myself the way that I want to.” 

Shavey: I agree. She expresses herself in the way that she thinks that it should be. For a teen to have that kind of courage, it’s just so beautiful. Our show talks about that. You see that this teenager has this courage, and you see it around the world now with these other teens who are shaping the world.

Not to sound corny, but our future is the children. They shape us into the next phase. I just think, especially with the topics that this show talks about and what goes into it, it’s just so beautiful. Everyone can learn from it.

Shavey Brown

Shavey: Our show doesn’t have a villain. I think that people think a certain character is a villain, but there is not a villain there. This character believes that’s what they think is right, and a lot of people in the world think just like this character. They’re finding out that they might need to change their thoughts as well. It’s beautiful, it’s a really beautiful show. 

Ashleigh: Also, there are so many people that didn’t even get to have a prom in the last two years, so this is a great opportunity. 

The Broadway stars (Dee Dee, Barry, Angie and Trent) are putting their hands together as they grin at one another. They're singing together as they work out a plan to revive their careers.
Company of <em>The Prom<em> © Deen van Meer

Shavey: You’re so right. There were some people who didn’t have proms because of the pandemic. We were in Fort Lauderdale for the show and it was so beautiful. I was eating by myself between shows and there was a group of friends, about eight people, and they were probably around the ages between 45 and 65. They were a gay and lesbian group of friends and they were all talking about how they didn’t go to their proms because they felt left out or they went but they wished they went with the person they wanted to go with. I just thought that was so beautiful to sit there and hear these people be excited to go see a show that celebrates this. They weren’t able to go to their own prom because of their insecurities or not being wanted, and now they get to see this on stage. It was really like “wow, we are really helping and touching people’s hearts.” We were just in Providence and a mother and daughter were at the stage door. The mother was like, “Thank you so much for doing this story. My daughter is lesbian and this was the best thing. It just warmed our heart to know that this kind of show exists.” We forget sometimes, especially as actors, that you really are “Changing Lives.” That’s a song in the show. I think that the arts truly do help change lives and make them think differently. It can be massive or can be very tiny, but I think it’s very important. 

Ashleigh: I also want to remind everyone that Tuesday night is family night/press night and Wednesday night is LGBTQIA+ night. I happen to know that a Massachusetts drag queen is coming as a patron on the Wednesday evening show. See you soon, Miz Diamond Wigfall! Now, let’s transition away from the show and more towards you. Let’s talk a little bit about your career and how you found yourself at The Prom

Emma (Kaden Kearney) is belting to the audience, with her arms lifted at her sides. She's dressed casually, standing in front of a brick wall of a school.
Company of <em>The Prom <em>© Deen van Meer

Shavey: Okay, when I saw the show, I was so blown away. This is the most beautiful and heart warming show. I found myself laughing hysterically and crying with joy. We started rehearsals in September 2021 and it was so glorious to be back in a rehearsal room after a pandemic and to be amongst people. It’s been nothing but sheer joy in doing this show and it’s probably one of the ‘funnest’ shows I’ve ever done. It’s been a complete joy doing this show. I’ve been an actor for a very long time and I have two kids. My kids just saw the show for the first time, so I thought that was very special for them to see this kind of a show as their first show ever and I got to be in it. It was fun.

Ashleigh: And what was their review?

Shavey: They’re two boys, seven and eight, so just imagine that. They loved it but they have to say they hate it because they are starting to get to that age they’re almost teenagers in their minds. The next day, the youngest one said “I actually really liked it. I just really wanted to be on the stage dancing.” I went “okay, well, we’ll get you dance classes.” My oldest loved it. He just was raving about it. He’s a musical theatre lover in our family, he’ll be a director.

Ashleigh: Okay, love it. We love the behind the scenes support. 

Shavey: Honestly, we need more of that. We need more of that behind the scenes and especially with like gigs being back. I would say we need more people who are directors and writers and creating more content. I love that he knows how to say things. He’s like “maybe think of it this way” and he’s eight years old. He’s are more articulate the some directors I’ve worked with. 

Ashleigh: We have a Conservatory here at The Hanover Theatre, and we cover a wide array of subjects. I’m always urging people to take the behind the scenes classes. Take lighting, take audio engineering, take stage management classes, they’re so valuable.

The cast of The Prom are grinning and singing to Barry (Patrick Wetzel) with their arms up. Barry is standing in the center, grinning and looking in the distance in a nice suit.
Company of <em>The Prom <em>© Deen van Meer

Shavey: They’re valuable because it’s all collaboration. I think theatre, anything in the arts, is collaboration. Like NBC, the more you know, rainbow in the star. A lot goes into a production and the crew is is extraordinary. When you watch a show, you don’t see what happens behind the scenes. I would love for a chance for theatres to make it iridescent backstage, so everyone can see what goes on. This actor runs and is getting changed by the dressers and then you see the the guys pulling the props and pushing sets.

There’s so much going on back there that makes a show run. As actors, we are the ones in the limelight, but a show cannot be done without the crew, the orchestra, our stage managers and the behind the scenes crew that really puts it on.

Shavey Brown

Ashleigh: Yeah, I think that’s why I love whenever we have Instagram takeovers. I love seeing that behind the scenes look at what’s going on in that backstage area. To see how is rehearsal is going before the show, introducing some cast members that we might not have caught before, it’s really fun.

Shavey: I agree. There are so many elements that go with it, especially with the touring show. When theatres were shut down, it didn’t just effect actors. It effects everyone that works in that theatre, down to the ushers, the bartenders for concessions, everyone in that building. It takes a village. 

Ashleigh: Oh, my goodness. Well, this has been a fantastic interview. Thank you so much for joining us today. Do you have any parting words for our audiences today? 

Shavey: Come check us out at The Hanover Theatre. I can’t say it enough, it’s going to be a fun time. You guys will be laughing, your hearts will be touched and you’ll want to get up to dance at the end. I challenge the audiences listening today to invite someone who you think would have an issue about this show. Bring them so they are challenged. Theatre is here to make us think. They may not agree. but they can at least listen. Invite someone who’s never seen theatre! They will be changed. 

Ashleigh: All right. Again, if you haven’t gotten your tickets yet, The Prom is coming to Hanover theatre April 26 through May 1. We cannot wait to welcome you to The Prom.