“How to Dance in Ohio,” a poignant new musical about a group of young autistic adults gearing up for a spring dance, will open on Broadway late this year, with a cast of seven autistic performers playing the central roles.
The musical is based on a 2015 documentary from the filmmaker Alexandra Shiva that followed participants in a social skills therapy program for people on the autism spectrum; the musical is also set at a therapy program, and it tells the story of young adults preparing for a dance that they hope could help them confront some of the challenges they face in navigating social interactions.
The musical had a previous run last year at Syracuse Stage in central New York; the production schedule was cut short when Covid cases arose among the cast and crew. The review of the show in The Post-Standard, a Syracuse newspaper, was headlined “The musical you’ll talk about for the rest of your life” and called it “exhilarating, groundbreaking, celebratory.”
Casting is not yet complete, but will include several actors making their Broadway debuts: Desmond Edwards, Amelia Fei, Madison Kopec, Liam Pearce, Imani Russell, Conor Tague and Ashley Wool. Among the others on the bill so far are Haven Burton and Darlesia Cearcy.
“How to Dance in Ohio” features a book and lyrics by Rebekah Greer Melocik and music by Jacob Yandura; it is directed by Sammi Cannold and choreographed by Mayte Natalio. The famed director and producer Hal Prince was initially attached to the project; he died in 2019.
The musical is being produced by a company called P3 Productions, which is led by Ben Holtzman, Sammy Lopez and Fiona Howe Rudin, along with Level Forward, the production company co-founded by Abigail Disney. It is being capitalized for up to $15.5 million, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The show is to begin previews Nov. 15 and to open Dec. 10 at the Belasco Theater.