HOW TO DANCE IN OHIO Makes Me Believe In Broadway Once Again


The Company | Photo: Andy Henderson

Kobi Kassal
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December 8, 2023 1:45 PM

One of the most endearing shows to open on Broadway this season is How To Dance In Ohio. Based on Alexandra Shiva’s award-winning documentary of the same name, the musical features a book and lyrics by Rebekah Greer Melocik and music by Jacob Yandura, both making their Broadway debuts. And trust me, some of these songs will be stuck in your head for weeks to come.  

How To Dance is a special and poignant new musical that follows seven autistic young adults as they prepare for their first formal dance at Amigo Family Counseling in Columbus, Ohio. Directed by Sammi Cannold and choreographed by Mayte Natalio, also both making their Broadway debuts, the production is dedicated to the late Hal Prince who had worked on and developed the project before he passed. 

In fact, the production has close to 50 Broadway debuts with everyone from the leads on stage, to musicians in the pit, to lighting programers, assistant publicists, and almost everyone in between. Marking your first time working on a Broadway show is a wonderful accomplishment, and to have a production that has so many debuts is delightful. 

The company | Photo: Andy Henderson

Leading the company are seven autistic actors including Desmond Edwards as Remy, Amelia Fei [Yi-Hsuan Fei] as Caroline, Madison Kopec as Marideth, Liam Pearce as Drew, Imani Russell as Mel, Conor Tague as Tommy, and Ashley Wool as Jessica. Also featured in the company are Caesar Samayoa as Dr. Emilio Amigo, Cristina Sastre as his daughter Ashley Amigo, Haven Burton as Terry, Darlesia Cearcy as Johanna, Carlos L Encinias, Nick Gaswirth, Melina Kalomas, Martín Solá. Completing the cast is Jean Christian Barry, Collin Hancock, Hunter Hollingsworth, Marina Jansen, Ayanna Nicole Thomas, and Marina Pires.     

How To Dance In Ohio had its world premiere at Syracuse Stage in fall of 2022 before starting previews at the Belasco Theatre on November 15. Their official opening night is set for this Sunday, December 10. 

In recent weeks, a few high profile names have joined the producing roster including Paula Abdul, Ludacris, Lucy Lawless, John Tartaglia, and more. 

The team behind the musical is putting authentic autistic representation front and center of the production, both onstage and off. Led by Ava Xiao-Lin Rigelhaupt as Autistic Creative Consultant, the Belasco Theatre now has sensory-friendly locations in the theatre for audience members to use as a cool-down spot if necessary. 

How To Dance In Ohio is making strides in the theatre community in terms of accessibility and I hope this is just the start. If you are looking for that feel-good show to see, make sure to add this one to your list. 

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Kobi Kassal

Hailing from sunny South Florida, Kobi Kassal founded Theatrely (formerly Theatre Talk Boston) while attending Boston University. He is an avid theatre attender and can be found seeing a performance most nights of the week (in normal times!) He is interested in the cross section of theatre, popular culture, hospitality, and politics. He also loves a good bagel!

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