Toronto, Dec. 05, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Prison Dancer: The Musical has wrapped a blockbuster run at Ottawa’s National Arts Centre (NAC) and will be announcing its next stop in the new year, as presentation venues and partners vie to be part of their journey to Broadway.

Inspired by a viral video from 2007 of Filipino inmates dancing to Michael Jackson’s Thriller, this critically acclaimed musical is Canada’s first-ever show produced, created and performed by Filipinos.

Prison Dancer’s journey began at festivals like fu-GEN Theatre in Toronto and the much-missed New York Musical Theatre Festival, until we received the coveted National Creation Fund support and partnered with the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton,” says Ana Serrano, the show’s producer and President and Vice-Chancellor of OCAD University. “Ending 2023 on Canada’s national stage at the NAC was a dream come true.”

Creators Romeo Candido and Carmen De Jesus add: “Throughout this long journey, perfecting our book and music, we knew all along that this story is a huge triumph for the Filipino community while resonating deeply with broader audiences too. From Toronto, New York, Edmonton and now Ottawa, even after all the years in between, we are proud of the stirring emotional response our show has elicited in our audiences, and our aim is to continue to share this musical magic with everyone.”

With its powerful fusion of pop, house, R&B, ballads and drag, Prison Dancer is a story of redemption and how a prisoner named Lola brings purpose and joy to a group of inmates through song and dance. The musical is directed by Nina Lee Aquino, award-winning Artistic Director of the NAC’s English Theatre.

After opening at Edmonton’s Citadel Theatre in the spring of 2023, where it won five Sterling Awards, including outstanding musical, Prison Dancer is following the path of other Broadway-destined productions Hadestown and SIX. The success of Prison Dancer comes on the heels of Asian Pacific Islander stories increasingly finding their rightful place on global stages and screens.

“Ottawa audiences have never seen anything like Prison Dancer,” says David Abel, Managing Director of English Theatre at the NAC. “To end our run with totally sold-out performances is one thing. To have diverse, multi-generational audiences actively participate in the musical leaving the NAC smiling and dancing is another thing altogether and truly magical.”

Prison Dancer: the Musical is a revival of the Citadel Production of Prison Dancer which received support from the NAC’s National Creation Fund and from Prison Dancer’s Tita & Tito Founding Circle of Co-producers: Gail Asper, Vicenta Gaspar-Yoo, Jennifer Ouano and Jonathan Reinis.

Prison Dancer Inc. is book writer and composer Romeo Candido, book writer Carmen De Jesus, and producers Ana Serrano and Carla Serrano. Together they are shepherding this award-winning transmedia musical poised to be the next “Miss Saigon meets In the Heights.” The first-ever musical produced, created and performed by Asian Pacific Islanders, Prison Dancer tells the fictionalized story of how one of the world’s first YouTube viral videos – Thriller uploaded  in 2007 – came to be.

Instagram: @prisondancermusical
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The National Arts Centre (NAC) is Canada’s bilingual, multi-disciplinary home for the performing arts. The NAC presents, creates, produces, and co-produces performing arts programming in various streams — the NAC Orchestra, Dance, English Theatre, French Theatre, Indigenous Theatre, and Popular Music and Variety — and nurtures the next generation of audiences and artists from across Canada. The NAC is located in the National Capital Region on the unceded territory of the Anishinabe Algonquin Nation.   




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