Impact of smoke on the air quality at the NAC
Company of Prison Dancer. Set and Props: Joanna Yu; Costumes: Joyce Padua; Lighitng: Michelle Ramsay © Nanc Price
Company of Prison Dancer. Set and Props: Joanna Yu; Costumes: Joyce Padua; Lighitng: Michelle Ramsay © Nanc Price
Music Pop R&B Theatre Musicals
  • In-person event

  • English
  • Ages 14+

  • Approx. 1 hour  and  30 minutes  with intermission
Performance options Start time Language Availability
Wednesday, November 29, 2023 11:00 am English Seats available

““This one is going places, folks; go see it so you can tell people you did before it inevitably hits Broadway.””

Edmonton Journal

How did the redemptive journey of Filipino prisoners create a global phenomenon?

In 2007, a video of 1,500 inmates in a Filipino prison dancing to Michael Jackson’s Thriller was posted to YouTube, and quickly became one of the first viral videos on the internet. The “Dancing Inmates of Cebu” are the unlikely inspiration behind an ambitious, perspective- altering and joyous musical by Filipino-Canadian creators Romeo Candido and Carmen De Jesus, celebrating its world premiere at the Citadel Theatre in May, 2023.  

Romeo and Carmen have painted a fictional portrait of the people behind this phenomenon through Prison Dancer, an award-winning transmedia project spanning stage and screen that has literally moved audiences to their feet to witness and celebrate a community coming together in harmony through the power of song and dance.  

Paying tribute to pop, house, and R&B while shamelessly reveling in its deep love for sentimental ballad and drag, Prison Dancer is a brave musical about redemption, highlighting how a prisoner named Lola brings purpose and joy to a group of inmates ready to feel the rhythm together.

“Every member of the twelve-person, all-Filipino cast is a bonafide triple threat. The vibrant full company ensemble numbers radiate star quality and are especially exciting to watch." - Broadway World

Content Warnings: This play contains some strong language and mature themes, including reference to criminal activity, drug use and addiction, as well as sex. There is also brief violence depicted onstage (see trigger warning for more details). 
Trigger Warnings: Gunshot, murder

  • Music and Lyrics by Romeo Candido
  • Book by Romeo Candido and Carmen De Jesus
  • Directed by Nina Lee Aquino
  • Produced by Ana Serrano, Carla Serrano and Romeo Candido
  • Prison Dancer's Tita & Tito Founding Circle Gail Asper, Vicenta Gaspar-Yoo, Jennifer Ouano and Jonathan Reinis

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Learning and engagement at Canada’s National Arts Centre is made possible through the support of many generous individuals and organizations from across the country. The Music Alive Program is made possible thanks to the leadership support of National Partner, The Azrieli Foundation, and Major Supporters, The Slaight Family Foundation and TD Bank Group. Thank you also to Grant and Alice Burton, Canada Life, A Donor-Advised Fund at the Community Foundation of Ottawa, Friends of the NAC Orchestra, Donors to the NAC Foundation's Future Fund, The Janice and Earle O’Born Fund for Artistic Excellence, and the donors and sponsors of the NAC’s National Youth and Education Trust, the primary resource for youth and education funding at the National Arts Centre.