Producers Ben Holtzman (he/him), Sammy Lopez (he/him), Fiona Howe Rudin (she/her), and Syracuse Stage announce casting for the world premiere of How to Dance in Ohio, a new musical 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), How to Dance in Ohio is scheduled as the 2022/2023 season opener at Syracuse Stage and will run Sept. 21 – Oct. 9, 2022. Tickets go on sale July 25 at www.SyracuseStage.org.
How to Dance in Ohio’s fourteen-member cast includes Tony Award-winning RENT star Wilson Jermaine Heredia (he/him), Broadway veterans, and seven autistic actors. Heredia leads the cast as Dr. Emilio Amigo, alongside Haven Burton (she/her; Shrek the Musical, Violet) as Teresa, Darlesia Cearcy (she/her; Shuffle Along, Once On This Island) as Johanna, Carlos L. Encinias (he/him; Les Misérables, Mamma Mia!) as Kurt, Desmond Edwards (he/him) as Remy, Amelia Fei [Yi-Hsuan Fei] (she/her) as Caroline, Nick Gaswirth (he/him; Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812) as Michael, Gaelen Gilliland (she/her; SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical, Legally Blonde) as Amy, Madison Kopec (she/her) as Marideth, Liam Pearce (he/him) as Drew, Marina Pires (she/her; Aladdin, On Your Feet!) as Ashley Amigo, Imani Russell (they/them) as Melissa, Conor Tague (he/him) as Tommy, and Ashley Wool (she/her) as Jessica.
How to Dance in Ohio is a heart-filled new musical that explores what it means to belong, the courage it takes to put yourself out in the world, and the universal need to connect. Based on Shiva’s award-winning documentary, produced by HBO in 2015, the musical follows the challenges and exhilarations faced by a group of seven autistic young adults at a counseling center in Columbus, Ohio. With the support of clinical psychologist Dr. Emilio Amigo, the center arranges a spring formal dance, and encourages them as they encounter love, fear, stress, excitement, and hope, along the path to human connection.
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, both on and off the stage. Ava Xiao-Lin Rigelhaupt (she/her) serves as the production’s ASD Creative Consultant with Becky Leifman (she/her) as the Director of Community Engagement. Music direction is by Lily Ling (she/her) with music supervision by Matt Gallagher (he/him). The full creative team will be announced at a later date.
The musical was originally developed with the legendary Broadway director Harold Prince and is dedicated to his instrumental work on the project. The production has received support from the Prince Fellowship and the Shubert Organization’s Artistic Circle. Gilliland, Holtzman, Leifman, and Lopez are alumni of Syracuse University.