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Meet The 2 St. Louis Theater Impresarios Who Helped Bring Netflix’s ‘The Prom’ To Life

(L-R): Andrew Rannells, Nicole Kidman, Jo Ellen Pellman, James Corden, Meryl Streep, Keagan-Michael Key and Kevin Chamberlin in Netflix's "The Prom."
(L-R): Andrew Rannells, Nicole Kidman, Jo Ellen Pellman, James Corden, Meryl Streep, Keagan-Michael Key and Kevin Chamberlin in Netflix's "The Prom."

On Dec. 11, Netflix released a film adaptation of the Broadway musical “The Prom,” which tells the story of Broadway stars traveling to Indiana to support a teen that wants to take her girlfriend to prom.

Two local fans anticipating the film’s release were Jack Lane and Andrew Kuhlman, executive and associate producers of Stages St. Louis, respectively. That’s because three years ago, the two worked to bring “The Prom” to Broadway. Lane was made lead producer of the stage musical, and Kuhlman was brought on as a co-producer.

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, Lane and Kuhlman joined host Sarah Fenske to talk about their role in producing the stage version of “The Prom.”

The Prom | Official Trailer | Netflix

Lane first got to preview the musical in 2016 while attending its pre-Broadway trial.

“I had heard a really good buzz, as they say in the industry, about it. And it was trying out of the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta. So I flew to Atlanta, I checked it out, and I fell in love with it instantly — literally 15 minutes into the show,” Lane said.

Among his fascination with the show, he particularly enjoyed that it had “heart and humor.”

“I thought it had some really great lessons. I thought it didn't slap you in the face; it was told with humor and with love. And I loved the score. I just thought it was a really, really special property that was going to reach a lot of people,” he explained.

Lane then suggested to Kuhlman that he should think about becoming a producer as well.

“I remember laughing a little bit and saying, ‘Well, no, that's not possible, that it’s kind of one of those dreams that are too big to dream,” Kuhlman recalled. “And then funnily enough, there were a couple things that just fell into place, and I found myself as a co-producer on my very first Broadway musical.”

The play went through some revisions before hitting the Broadway stage in New York City. “A scalpel was taken to the show during previews, and it just kind of ‘sheened the diamonds,’ so to speak,” Lane explained.

Kuhlman noted that the Broadway hit’s essence mostly remained in the film adaptation, with nearly all of the songs and 90% of the dialogue deriving from the original stage production.

“So many of the actors that we work with here [at] Stages have just been saying how it's wonderful to see this love story to these big Broadway musicals right here on the screen in their own home. I think it's a really beautiful thing,” he said.

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Lara is a producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.

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