Nickel Mines is a non-traditional musical combining spoken dialogue with interpretive movement and a powerful original score by composer Dan Dyer. Built on the assertion that history offers us more relevant drama than fiction, the book (co-written by Andrew Palermo and Shannon Stoeke) prioritizes allegiance to the facts of the case, utilizing transcripts of the crime and its aftermath and allowing the story to emerge through dramatic interpretation. The shooting is presented in vignette form through various perspectives, sometimes finding voice in a universal narrator.

At its core, Nickel Mines is an exploration of the power of forgiveness, and the ways in which choosing forgiveness over retribution mitigate the sensationalism and cyclical escalation born of revenge. It is also an examination of the stories of lives spoken in their own words, a rethinking of the notion of victim-hood, and a survey of the public’s preconceptions about Amish religion and culture.

Nickel Mines is based on the 2006 West Nickel Mines School shooting that occurred in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Creator/Director/Choreographer Andrew Palermo chose his subject matter as a theatrical lens through which to explore individual and societal reactions to the event, and to let the facts of this historical moment in time speak for themselves through creative reenactment.


Through community and audience engagement, Nickel Mines endeavors to assist in opening and furthering a thoughtful and productive dialogue on an issue that clearly continues to touch us all.

Palermo says the piece aims to “look at the events of that fateful October morning through a variety of lenses while making no judgments, professing no morals. The victims, the family of the killer, and the community all have a voice in this new theatrical work.


“Utilizing both historical and interpretive text, music and movement, Nickel Mines shines a light on this recent tragedy, and in the process, hopes to continue a dialogue on how violence, faith, forgiveness and justice speak to and interact with one another.”

Nickel Mines finds a powerful voice that walks the line between the ephemeral and the documentary, artfully giving life to a moment in history that continues to resonate on an increasingly frequent basis.