Recently, iHeartRadio Broadway got to chat with the cast and creative team behind the new Broadway musical, How to Dance in Ohio! The show is inspired by Alexandra Shiva’s Peabody Award-winning documentary of the same name. With book and lyrics by Rebekah Greer Melocik (she/her), music by Jacob Yandura (he/him), choreography by Mayte Natalio (she/her), and direction by Sammi Cannold (she/her) – all making their Broadway debuts - How to Dance in Ohio will begin previews on November 15, 2023, and open on December 10, 2023 at the Belasco Theatre (111 W. 44th St).
In the parts of the real-life autistic young adults featured in the HBO documentary, are a cast of seven autistic actors, all reprising the roles they played at Syracuse Stages, and making their Broadway debuts: Desmond Luis Edwards (he/they) as Remy, Amelia Fei [Yi-Hsuan Fei] (she/her) as Caroline, Madison Kopec (they/she) as Marideth, Liam Pearce (he/him) as Drew, Imani Russell (they/them) as Mel, Conor Tague (he/him) as Tommy, and Ashley Wool (she/her) as Jessica.
Rounding out the cast are Broadway veteran Caesar Samayoa (he/him) as renown psychologist Dr. Emilio Amigo, Cristina Sastre (she/her) as Ashley Amigo, Haven Burton (she/her) as Terry, Darlesia Cearcy (she/he) as Johanna, with Jean Christian Barry (they/them), Collin Hancock (he/him), Hunter Hollingsworth (he/him), Marina Jansen (they/them), Ayanna Thomas (she/her), Marina Pires (she/he), Carlos L Encinias (he/him), Nick Gaswirth (he/him), Melina Kalomas (she/her), and Martín Solá (he/him).
How to Dance in Ohio is a heartfelt new musical about the desire to connect and the courage it takes to put yourself out into the world. At a group counseling center in Columbus, Ohio, seven autistic young adults prepare for a spring formal dance—a challenge that breaks open their routines as they experience love, stress, excitement, and independence. How to Dance in Ohio is a story about people on the cusp of the next phase of their lives, facing down hopes and fears, ready to take a momentous first step…and dance.
The full creative team includes Tony Award nominated scenic designer Robert Brill (Ain’t Too Proud, Thoughts of a Colored Man), Tony Award nominated costume designer Sarafina Bush (For Colored Girls…), two–time Tony Award winning lighting designer Bradley King (Hadestown; Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812) and sound designer Connor Wang (The Cher Show – assist). Orchestrations are by Tony Award winner Bruce Coughlin (The Light in the Piazza), and Scott Rowen (Hamilton) is the production stage manager. The production is cast by Benton Whitley, CSA & Micah Johnson-Levy of Whitley Theatrical. General management is by ShowTown Theatricals, Music Consultation is by Mary-Mitchell Campbell, Production counsel is Doug Nevin/ Klaris Law and the Production Manager is Bethany Stewert (What the Constitution Means to Me).
The musical was originally developed with the late, legendary Broadway director Harold Prince and is dedicated to his instrumental work on the project.
Through a dedication to authentic autistic representation, the musical’s creators adhere closely to the documentary’s narrative and spirit, offering a visible platform for autistic actors in a way that has never happened before in a new musical, either on or off the stage. Ava Xiao-Lin Rigelhaupt (she/her) serves as the production’s Autistic Creative Consultant with Becky Leifman (she/her) as the Director of Community Engagement. The Accessibility Team also includes Jeremy Wein (Associate Producer) and Nicole D'Angelo (Assistant Music Director). The How to Dance in Ohio production has also been developed to be inherently sensory-friendly (an environment accommodating to individuals with sensory sensitivities), and the team is working on several elements in the theater to ensure an experience that is accessible for as many audience members as possible. Elements that are currently being developed, include: advance information (videos & maps) about the theater experience, sensory tool kits, cool-down spaces, and a performance sensitivity list. Updates and announcements regarding accessibility will be posted on the show’s website and social media pages. In addition to guidance from the show’s Accessibility Team, the production uses the resources found here.
Tickets and Performance Schedule: Tickets for How to Dance in Ohio are now on sale via Telecharge.com. The regular performance schedule is: Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays @ 7pm; Wednesday & Saturdays @ 2pm & 7:30pm; and Sundays @ 3pm. Holiday weeks may vary, check howtodanceinohiomusical.com for the most up to date schedules.