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Pinoy Abroad

'Prison Dancer' an ode to Pinoy artists

February 24, 2012 1:00pm
As they gear up to bring the web musical “Prison Dancer” to an international film festival in California, the three Filipinos behind the landmark project said it was an ode to Filipino artists who rarely get to portray Filipinos onstage and onscreen.
 
In an interview with Asian Journal, Carmen de Jesus, who co-wrote the web musical, said: “We’re playing all the other Asians, except ourselves, so this (Prison Dancer)… [is] a uniquely Filipino story. It [is] a perfect story for Filipinos to tell and to be proud of.” 
 
Inspired by the “dancing inmates” from the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center in the Philippines, the all-original musical series was shown via YouTube.

It features “rising Filipino talents in North America” such as Canadian Idol finalist and YouTube sensation Mikey Bustos and Catherine Ricafort, who “is now making waves on Broadway.” 
 
The story takes the form of combined “faux documentary styles” and traditional musicals, where known music and pop culture reporter Matt Wells (playing himself) “uncovers the personal, poignant, hilarious, and universal life journeys” of prisoners played by select Filipino talents.
 
Aside from its “online showing”, the web musical will debut on March 15 at the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival as its Closing Night feature.
 
From stage to web
 
In an interview with Asian Journal, writer-director-composer Romeo Candido said he approached De Jesus with the idea of a musical “after writing a couple of songs inspired by the dancing inmates,” of which he admitted to be “a huge fan” of.
 
Candido and De Jesus, who have worked together in the Canadian production of “Miss Saigon” nearly 20 years ago, then “workshopped” the product “as a live theater show,” where it was spotted by producer Ana Serrano, who came up with the idea to leap to YouTube.
 
However, cast member Bustos — who plays Christian, the newest inmate— said viewers would not get an exact re-enactment of the viral inmates YouTube video because the brains behind the musical “have chosen not to” craft the play as such. 

“All the music in this is original so we can’t do the Michael Jackson thing,” he told GMA News Online in an exclusive interview last January. “But there’s choreography. Light choreography… [and] a lot of music, a lot of cool story lines, and it’s really fun.
 
Call for help
 
In line with the musical’s upcoming debut, the production team is asking “everyone to pledge or donate” to enable them to “accelerate post-production to complete the series for the launch,” the Asian Journal said.
 
The team is in need of a full $42,000 for the project to be funded by March 17. As of this writing, they have collected 81 backers and $4,754.
 
Those who are interested to help may go to the team’s Kickstarter Pledge page or contact them at prisondancer@gmail.com. - VVP, GMA News