I have never been to a prom. Not because I didn't have the right dress or no date; proms were not a part of my school culture. So, my idea of a prom was greatly based on pop culture and television—a.k.a. Mean Girls and “Full House.” And I'm not the only one. Ken Davenport, the creator of The Awesome ’80s Prom, built his idea of the ideal prom via a film reel as well.
Ken Davenport is a Tony Award-winning Broadway and Off-Broadway theatre producer, blogger, and writer. While Davenport is a man of many accomplishments, he is also a man of the ’80s, and his Awesome ’80s Prom play is like a dedication to the prom he never had.
“I lived through an era of movies like 16 candles and Pretty in Pink,” Davenport said, “And my prom was a very uppity, school tuxedos meet white gown kind of prom.” He did not want that; he wanted to “do something with no dress code and play the music we want.” And that is exactly what you see in The Awesome ’80s Prom.
Attending the show is like being an active part of the ’80s with your favorite characters: the pretty cheerleader, the Asian boy and the nerd among the rest. “You participated; you danced with the football team and voted for your prom king and queen,” Davenport said.
Davenport and his class of ’89 put together prom characters “inspired by ’80s movie favorites, from the captain of the football team to the Asian exchange student, from the geek to the sexy head cheerleader.” In this world, “Everyone is competing for prom king and queen and the audience decides who wins.”
“This is the fantasy prom we wanted to have back in the day,” Davenport said. “There was no pressure, no pinning the corsage on the girl, parents driving you over.”
When asked about his favorite moments from the show, Davenport commented that “The 15-year-old boy in me loves the cheerleaders when they come out to do their big number.” But another favorite moment is the perfect one, like from a happy Disney movie: In the end, the nerd character, Lewis, has typical ’80s movie monologue that reminds everybody that they are all the same. Nerdy Lewis also gets the girl in the end (awww moment).
It only took about a year to develop the show, as once the characters were created, much of the script development leaned on improvisation. The Awesome '80s Prom then premiered in New York in 20014, and ran until 2013.
On a scale of one to awesome, The Awesome ’80s Prom surpasses the awesome. Davenport believes there never will be a time like the ’80s. “The ’80s are the new ’50s. People like to dress up and celebrate,” he said. “The movies that inspired the show and music are classics and classics stand the test of time.”
Want to learn more about this rockin' time? Check out the Awesome '80s website for photos, clips and more.