Fight For Prom Night Rights



      Two years ago, an Oshawa teenager made history by taking his boyfriend to the prom.

      To be allowed to enjoy a rite of passage guaranteed to all graduating high school students, Marc Hall had to declare legal war on the Catholic Church.

      His story made headlines across the country.

      So, it's not very surprising that Canadian television -- which feeds on stories "ripped from the headlines" -- would get around to turning Hall's story into a movie of the week.

      What is surprising is the approach the producers took in bringing Prom Queen to the air on CTV, Tuesday at 9 p.m.). Rather than making a serious drama, they chose to produce a teen comedy.

      That was because a lot of the real-life material verged on the ridiculous, says producer Mary Young Leckie (Tagged: The Jonathan Wamback Story, Shattered City: The Halifax Explosion).

      "When we looked at the story, we realized that it wouldn't have been appropriate or at all interesting to take a straight docudrama approach."

      "When I read the statements from the Catholic school board, they were ludicrous. To talk about dancing as being part of the courtship that leads to marriage -- and that was their main basis for not allowing Marc to go to the prom with his boyfriend."

      "And I thought, 'This is funny. This is very funny.' We have to do this as a comedy."

      The film stars 24-year-old Toronto actor Aaron Ashmore (Treed Murray, Safety of Objects) as Hall and features a cast that includes Fiona Reid as the head of the school board, Tamara Hope (Guinevere Jones) as Marc's best friend and Mac Fyfe as his boyfriend. Marie Tifo (Pouvoir Intime, Napoleon) and Jean-Pierre Bergeron (The Last Chapter, Alias) play Marc's parents.

      Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the casting is that two former members of Kids In The Hall -- a troupe that may have had the highest ratio of gay humour in TV history -- were cast on opposite sides of Hall's battle with the school board. Dave Foley is an evil, power-mad high school principal who could have stepped right out of Back To The Future, and Scott Thompson plays Hall's lawyer.

      The storyline follows the facts of the case -- how Hall was told by the principal that he couldn't bring a male date to the prom, how he took his case to the school board and was turned down, and how he finally launched a Charter of Rights challenge to the school board in court -- and became a media celebrity.

      "The most impressive thing about him was his courage," Ashmore says. "The way he acted, he seemed completely unfazed by what he was doing.

      "He was standing up to the Catholic Church because he felt there was no reason he should be denied his rights. This huge superpower that is the Catholic Church -- a lot of people would have backed away, but he just went head-on for it."

      Layered around the story of Hall's battle with the powers that be is a comedy about relationships among the teens in the school. There's a goofy kid in a wool hat who wants to be a filmmaker, three sex kittens who parade around the halls like they're the executives of the Britney Spears fan club, and a pair of geeks who set up a gay-rights Web site.

      "There was a lot of funny stuff in the school that my character wasn't part of," Ashmore says. "His situation was serious, and I didn't want to make him too fun. But a lot of the guys had a ball with it. In some ways, it was like hanging out in high school, goofing off and having fun."



Brian Gorman / Toronto Sun