In 2007, a video of 1,500 inmates in a Philippines prison dancing to Michael Jackson’s Thriller was posted to YouTube and quickly became one of the first viral videos.  The “Dancing Inmates of Cebu” are the inspiration behind an ambitious new musical by Filipino-Canadian creators Romeo Candido and Carmen De Jesus.

Over the past several years, Romeo and Carmen have painted a fictional portrait of the people behind this phenomenon through Prison Dancer, an award-winning transmedia project that includes an interactive web series, a performative cinematic experience, and a cast recording.  They are now revisiting Prison Dancer, a musical that will expand this storytelling with an even deeper exploration of these complex characters and their experiences.

© Renell Doneza, Byron Flores, Josh Capulong, Julio Fuentes, Daren Dyhengco et Pierre Angelo Bayuga
© Norm Alconcel, Josh Capulong, Julio Fuentes, Pierre Angelo Bayuga, Renell Doneza, Dominique Brillantes et Daren Dyhengco
© Joseph Sevillo, Jeigh Madjus, Pierre Bayuga
© Chariz Faulmino, Jovanni Sy, Stephen Thakkar et Byron Flores
© Pierre Angelo Bayuga, Daren Dyhengco, Julio Fuentes, Renell Doneza et Dominique Brillantes.
© Dominique Brillantes, Renell Doneza, Pierre Angelo Bayuga et Julio Fuentes
© Julio Fuentes


The Citadel Theatre is one of the largest not-for profit theatres in North America, drawing patrons from a large geographic region that includes the greater Edmonton area as well as central and northern Alberta.  In addition to presenting a full season of professional theatre, Citadel Theatre runs several training programs (including one of the most comprehensive programs for creative development in professional theatre), hosts three resident theatre companies, develops new work, and provides rental spaces for numerous arts organizations and community groups.

Creative team

  • Director Nina Lee Aquino
  • Assistant director Gina Puntil
  • Co-Creator Romeo Candido and Carmen De Jesus
  • Dramaturgy Rick Boynton
  • Music Director Kierscey Rand
  • Choreographer Julio Fuentes
  • Associate Choreographer Keiran Bohay
  • Assistant Choreographer Josh Capulong
  • Costume Designer Joyce Padua
  • Set & Props Designer Joanna Yu
  • Sound Designer Owen Hutchinson
  • Lightning Designer Michelle Ramsay
  • Apprentice Lightning Designer Za Hughes
  • Fight Director Morgan Yamada
  • Dialect Coach Grace Alarcon-Isla
  • Stage Manager Michelle Chan
  • Assistant Stage Manager Steven Sobolewski
  • Apprentice Stage Manager Krystal Johnson

National Creation Fund investment

The National Creation Fund’s investment of $135,000 provided the additional time required to develop a large-scale musical, including workshops to revisit the original music and text, and the integration of designers and design concepts earlier in the development process.  It also allowed the creators to more fully develop the work as both a stage production and a digital piece.


Developed with support from the National Arts Centre’s National Creation Fund.

Past performances

Presented by The Citadel Theatre May 11 - May 28, 2023 Shoctor Theatre (Edmonton)
Presented by NAC English Theatre Nov 24 - Dec 2, 2023 Babs Asper Theatre (Ottawa)

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