Syracuse Stage is seeking talented local youth actors to audition for the role of Ivanka in its upcoming production of “Once,” directed by Melissa Crespo. Auditioners should note that the production schedule for “Once” includes morning student matinees in addition to…
From Boland Hall to Broadway, Colleagues and Friends Produce ‘How to Dance in Ohio’
Two Syracuse University alumni are opening their first Broadway musical as lead producers, “How to Dance in Ohio,” and the Dec. 5 preview performance included close to 200 Syracuse University leaders, alumni, parents and friends. Producers Ben Holtzman ’13 and Sammy Lopez ’13, co-founders of P3 Productions, are musical theater graduates of the College of Visual and Performing Arts and met as freshman year roommates in Boland Hall. Sixteen Syracuse University alumni are involved with the Broadway production. Holtzman is the protégé of Broadway titan Hal Prince.
Syracuse University’s Broadway Series is hosted by the alumni engagement and annual giving team based out of New York City’s Lubin House. The evening began with a lively dinner and panel discussion at renowned NYC eatery Sardi’s. Panelists included Holtzman and Lopez, along with Bob Hupp, artistic director at Syracuse Stage, and Beth Myers, Lawrence B. Taishoff Associate Professor of Inclusive Education and executive director of the Taishoff Center on Inclusive Education in the School of Education. Christine Ashby G’01, G’07, G’08, professor of inclusive special education and disability studies in the School of Education, moderated an important discussion about how “How to Dance in Ohio” made its way to Broadway, and how Syracuse University is paving the way for inclusivity.
“Autistic people can be in college. Autistic people can be on Broadway. Syracuse University should be really proud of the work that’s happened over the last 70 years at our university to make that possible,” said Myers, referencing the work of the Taishoff Center and the Center for Disability and Inclusion. Syracuse University’s work in disability awareness and inclusion is groundbreaking in the field of higher education.
“How to Dance in Ohio,” based on the award-winning HBO documentary, explores the need to connect and the courage it takes to step out into the world. At a group counseling center in Columbus, Ohio, seven autistic young adults prepare for a spring formal dance—a challenge that breaks open their routines and sets off hilarious and heartbreaking encounters with love, stress, excitement and independence. “How to Dance in Ohio” is a story about people standing on the cusp of the next phase of their lives, facing their hopes and fears, ready to take a very big first step … and dance.
“That’s why we knew this show needed to exist. It’s because it hasn’t existed before,” said Lopez, referencing that the roles of the seven autistic young adults are played by actors who identify as autistic. The production offers many accommodations for the audience to fully experience the musical, from light-canceling sunglasses to special headphones with self-adjustable volume. This production and Syracuse University offer opportunities to experience Broadway and life in general to those who were previously excluded. Everyone feels welcome.
“How to Dance in Ohio” debuted at Syracuse Stage in 2022 but was forced to close early due to COVID-19. The show opens Sunday at the Belasco Theatre on Broadway.