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Calgary researcher Marc Hall’s gay rights story to premiere as Theatre Calgary musical

All Marc Hall wanted to do was take his boyfriend to prom. 

What led him to actually do that is now the subject of a musical premiering at Theatre Calgary next year called ‘The Louder We Get.” 

“It’s crazy to think about how a part of your life has actually been turned into a stage musical,” said Hall. 

“But it’s so awesome. The story itself, even though it was 17 years ago, is still so relevant.”

When things took a turn for Marc Hall

In 2002, Hall attended high school in Oshawa, Ont. He asked his then-English teacher about taking his boyfriend to the prom. Hall, along with other staff and students, didn’t think it would be a problem even though the school was under the Durham Catholic District School Board.

But once he tried to speak to his principal, things changed.

“So I asked the principal, who had already heard about what was going on, for a meeting and he kept putting me off. He was avoiding me in the hallways and was always busy apparently,” Hall said.

“When he finally met with me, he told me the school couldn’t condone homosexual behaviour and I wouldn’t be able to go to the prom with my boyfriend unless I went alone.” 

After another meeting with the principal and his family failed to change anything, Hall’s friends created a website outlining his plight. A radio host from Windsor would eventually see that website, contact Hall and send his story to his list of contacts. 

Over the next few days, Hall’s school was surrounded by reporters. His story would be broadcast across Canada and around the world. A lawyer then offered to fight the school board’s decision pro bono. 

Eventually, Hall and his boyfriend did attend prom together after successfully petitioning the court for an injunction.

Marc Hall and his boyfriend would eventually be allowed to go to prom together. Screenshot “Prom Fight: The Marc Hall Story.”

“It was the day of the prom. We had our tuxes kind of spread out on the couch. The limo was outside waiting. Then I got the phone call we won and we all cried,” Hall said.

From real life to musical

Fast forward 17 years and Hall is now a research associate with the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Nursing. A documentary was created of Hall’s story, and producers got in touch to create a musical of it called Prom Queen. 

The musical has been workshopped and performed across Canada, eventually changing a few things here and there to become The Louder We Get.

Stafford Arima, the Artistic Director of The Louder We Get, said in an emailed statement, they’re thrilled to bring the production to Calgary. 

“It’s remarkable that we have Calgarian writers, Colleen and Akiva, and an Albertan writer, Kent Staines, to take on Marc’s real-life, Canadian story, and turn it into a thoroughly entertaining and engaging musical about standing up and speaking out,” Arima wrote.

Stafford Arima (left) and Marc Hall helped produce The Louder We Get, premiering at Theatre Calgary next year. Submitted Photo.

For Hall, he has dreams the show will eventually go to Broadway in New York.

“As much as it’s weird to see a part of your life being acted on stage it’s really awesome,” Hall said.

“I might be a little biased though. But the messages behind my story and the messages behind the musical are all about standing up for yourself, being who you are, standing up in the face of adversity. It’s also about community coming together and people mobilizing together to enact positive change.”