Rent Tony winner Wilson Jermaine Heredia will lead a cast including both Broadway veterans and seven autistic actors in Syracuse Stage's previously announced 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 a book and lyrics by Rebekah Greer Melocik, music by Jacob Yandura, choreography by Mayte Natalio, and direction by Sammi Cannold, the work will be presented September 21-October 9 at the New York venue.
Heredia will play Dr. Emilio Amigo with Haven Burton (Shrek the Musical) as Teresa, Darlesia Cearcy (Shuffle Along…) as Johanna, Carlos L. Encinias (Les Misérables) as Kurt, Desmond Edwards as Remy, Amelia Fei as Caroline, Nick Gaswirth (Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812) as Michael, Gaelen Gilliland (SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical) as Amy, Madison Kopec as Marideth, Liam Pearce as Drew, Marina Pires as Ashley Amigo, Imani Russell as Melissa, Conor Tague as Tommy, and Ashley Wool as Jessica.
Based on Shiva’s documentary, produced by HBO in 2015, How to Dance in Ohio follows the challenges faced by a group of autistic young adults at a counseling center in 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.
Ava Xiao-Lin Rigelhaupt serves as the production’s ASD (autism spectrum disorder) creative consultant with Becky Leifman as the director of community engagement. Music direction is by Lily Ling with music supervision by Matt Gallagher. Additional creative team members will be announced.
The musical was originally developed with the late Harold Prince and is dedicated to his 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.
Tickets go on sale July 25 at SyracuseStage.org.