If your idea of life in a Philippines prison involves a lot of singing and dancing, that's probably due to the ancient internet meme known as the Dancing Inmates of Cebu, in which a 2007 video clip showing prisoners at the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Centre dancing to a choreographed version of Michael Jackson's Thriller went viral.
The inmates have followed up their initial internet success with other dance routines, but their cultural impact is set to go beyond mere grainy YouTube clips. "Prison Dancer: The Interactive Musical" is a 12-episode web series, inspired by the Cebu videos, set to launch in March 2012.
Shot in Toronto, the series tells the story of 6 Filipino inmates affected by their surprise hit internet dancing video, and the show features plenty of singing and dancing to help develop the characters' stories.
Here's the series trailer:
As of this morning, the video already had close to 40,000 views, and has been getting noticed far beyond the production's home base in Toronto. Romeo Candido, a composer, writer and director with the show, said the clip has found its own small version of a Cebu-like success:
"We were just sending a quick teaser trailer to our couple hundred followers on Facebook, and to our friends and family for a New Year's gift," Candido wrote in an email to Strombo.com. "Then, funnily enough, our musical based on a viral meme went viral."
"By day two it was already on Australian TV shows, blogged all over Asia and North America, and we just saw the numbers growing each day ... [A] cat taking a bath while its owner is doing a make-up tutorial can get a million views in two days, but I feel the level in which our audience is engaging is really exciting, and we're excited as they've only seen the tip of the tip of the iceberg."
In case you forgot, here is the original Thriller video, as performed by the actual inmates of Cebu penitentiary:
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