Catch this Fil-Canadian musical in Ottawa inspired by the dancing inmates of Cebu
To this day, “Thriller” by Michael Jackson has been one of the most recreated dance choreographies of all time, even sans the need for Halloween.
While the ’80s hit has gathered tons of covers under its belt, there are a few we might be able to recall instantly. One of them is the performance of Cebu’s dancing inmates—whether you’ve seen it on the news in 2007 or randomly come across one of the group’s YouTube videos.
Apart from this, they’re actually the inspiration behind a Filipino-Canadian musical called “Prison Dancer.” Directed by award-winning Filipino-Canadian dramaturg and National Arts Centre’s English Theatre artistic director Nina Lee Aquino, “Prison Dancer” is a transmedia project, which includes an interactive web series, a performative web experience, a performative cinematic experience, and a cast recording. It’s also a musical you have to catch soon.
Previously premiered in May 2023 at Shoctor Theatre/Citadel Theatre in Edmonton, Canada, “Prison Dancer” began its limited run on Nov. 23 and will end on Dec. 2, this time at the Babs Asper Theatre at National Arts Centre (NAC) in Ottawa, Ontario. You can also catch a talkback on Nov. 29.
According to NAC, the musical is a “brave” tale on “redemption, highlighting how a prisoner named Lola brings purpose and joy to a group of inmates ready to feel the rhythm together.” It also pays homage to pop, house, and R&B while basking in its “love for sentimental ballad and drag.”
In a Broadway World article published April ahead of its Edmonton premiere, a slice of Filipino-Canadian co-creators Romeo Candido and Carmen De Jesus’ reveal their thought process.
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“Ever since Carmen and I both performed in ‘[Miss] Saigon’ over 30 years ago, we vowed to create a decidedly authentic Filipino story where we can showcase and celebrate what we know to be a pipeline of triple-threat API (Asia-Pacific Islander) talent around the world,” said Candido.
“Prison Dancer” features music from Romeo Candido and is produced by Ana Serrano and Carla Serrano. Let a theater fan friend know that tickets are available here.