A Prom Scrapbook

Memories of one 'magic' night, from awesome to awful

September 28, 2005|By J. WYNN ROUSUCK | J. WYNN ROUSUCK,SUN THEATER CRITIC

Imagine a high-school prom where anyone can dance with the captain of the football team or the head cheerleader (or both), where you can drink alcoholic beverages (for a price), where there aren't any chaperones and you can make up for whatever went wrong at your own prom.

According to Ken Davenport, creator and director of The Awesome 80s Prom -- which begins performances at the Hippodrome's M&T Bank Pavilion tomorrow -- that's part of the thinking behind this interactive show, in its second year in New York.

Consider Davenport's personal prom history. He broke up with his girlfriend a month before his senior prom at Bancroft School in Worcester, Mass., in 1990. "I went with a very good friend of mine, who I was not dating," he recalls. "I literally was dancing with [her] and -- in a moment right out of a teen movie -- looking longingly at my sweetheart as `Don't Stop Believing' was playing in the background. We got back together, like, the next day."

Six months ago, Davenport invited his former sweetheart (now a New York lawyer) to attend The Awesome 80s Prom. "I hadn't seen her in years," he says. And so, 15 years after he had pined to "Don't Stop Believing," Davenport and his high-school honey got to dance to that very song at his show.

With Davenport's show about to make its debut here, The Sun has been collecting prom memories -- the good, the bad and the embarrassing -- from readers. Here are some of their stories.

A wedding, a prom

Charlie Boecker has no trouble remembering the exact date of his Franklin High School prom -- June 6, 1970. That's because it's also his wedding anniversary. On the afternoon of the prom, he eloped with his prom date, the former Donna V. Jones.

The couple got married in Pennsylvania, came back and told their folks, then headed off to the prom. "Somewhere between the prom and after-prom party, one of the guys raided his mother's kitchen and got these boxes of rice. Then as we were leaving, rice was coming from every direction. I think we saw rice for days," says Donna Boecker, now happily married for 35 years and the mother of a 31-year-old daughter -- who also eloped.

Married in a peach-colored suit, Donna changed into a long gown and Charlie changed into a tuxedo for the prom, which, in their case, doubled as a wedding reception.

"We didn't have to pay for the band," Donna says. "How many people can say that?"

Poster girl

When Beth Micka Plummer attended Wilde Lake High School in Columbia, the 5-foot-9 varsity basketball forward was saddled with the nickname "Stork." "I was a total nerd," Plummer says, via e-mail. "My senior prom was in 1984 and I had zero chance of getting asked. My `friends' made 200 copies of my senior portrait and posted them all over the school with the caption, `Wanted, Dead or Alive, prom date for Beth Micka.'"

Though embarrassing, the posters worked. Beth went to the prom with an underclassman named Michael Groves. To this day, she suspects he asked her on a dare. "I never got to the bottom of it. I was just glad he was my date," she says (adding that instead of heels she wore purple Chuck Taylor high-tops to the prom).

Married since 1998 to 6-foot-2 Bob Plummer, Beth plans to attend The Awesome 80s Prom in November with 20 friends. Members of a supper club, they had their own dress rehearsal in April. That supper's theme was " '80s prom."

Will and Grace

Melinda Ascher Greenberg -- director of communications at Baltimore Hebrew University and a member of the Class of 1984 at the Kew-Forest School in Forest Hills, N.Y. -- describes her prom as "definitely more fun than romantic."

The reason became clear when she and her prom date, Robert Lomnicki, met for lunch in New York a few summers afterward and he told her that he was gay. "He told me he knew in high school, he just didn't want to hurt me by telling me," says Greenberg, who dated Lomnicki in 11th and 12th grades.

The news didn't come as a shock, although Greenberg says she hadn't quite figured it out in high school. "Apparently everyone else did. I was a little slow on the uptake," she says. "Believe me, I can relate to Will and Grace."

Greenberg last saw Lomnicki at their 20th-class reunion. "We hadn't seen each other in 10 years. He came with his partner," she says. "He remembered my Albert Nipon prom dress because he said, `Everyone else was wearing Laura Ashley and my date was haute couture.'"

A date with destiny

The first boy whom Genevieve Headley asked to her Southern High School prom informed her that he had no intention of wearing a tuxedo. "Tell him he doesn't have to take you," her mother remarked. As her second choice, Genevieve invited Arthur Taylor, a young man who had shown some interest in her at church -- "and besides, he had a car."

They had a lovely time, she says, although one thing struck her as odd. His aftershave smelled so good, she thought he was wearing perfume. "My father didn't use that kind, so I didn't know," she recalls.

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