'Prison Dancer' debuts as stage musical in NY

by Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau

Posted at Jul 18 2012 03:09 PM | Updated as of Jul 18 2012 11:09 PM

NEW YORK - The hit YouTube musical “Prison Dancer” is debuting as a stage musical at the New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF) on Friday, July 20.

New Yorkers had a glimpse of “Prison Dancer” the musical in a two-song preview at the Toshi’s Living Room in Manhattan Monday night.

Prison Dancer revolves around the lives of eight Filipino maximum security prisoners whose lives were changed forever after a video of their dance-based rehab program became a viral internet sensation on YouTube.

Prison Dancer was inspired by the YouTube video of the “Dancing Inmates” of Cebu in 2007, a viral video that made headlines all over the world.

“The North American audience really took to this lovely story of people who did wrong, or who committed crimes getting a second chance or second lease in life by dancing,” said Ana Serano, producer and founder of CFC Media Lab.

Jeigh Madjus who plays “Lola,” a gay inmate who became the inmates’ choreographer said, “Prison Dancer is about finding yourself through dance in a dark place like the prison. It’s set in a prison, and basically everyone is looking for love, is looking for freedom, is looking for something in their life and they find it through the dance.”

The musical stars Jose Llana who plays the role of Christian Escudero, the part originally played by Canadian Idol Mikey Bustos.

Llana said, “I think this is definitely the next big Filipino thing in New York and on Broadway. I think we’re all very proud to be part of that.”

The New York Musical Film Festival has been a launching pad for a remarkable number of successful musicals like “The Altar Boys” and Pulitzer Prize winner “Next to Normal.”

Producers are hoping that the new musical could be the next “Rent” or “Miss Saigon” that will showcase the Filipino talent in live theaters shows worldwide.

“It’s OPM, Original Pinoy Musical. It’s about Filipinos. It’s created by Filipinos. It’s being performed by Filipinos,” said composer, writer and lyricist Romeo Candido.