Reviewed: January 10, 2018
Once On This Island is playing at Circle in the Square located at 235 West 50th Street. The musical runs one hour thirty minutes with no intermission. The show is open ended.
Michael Arden is the director. He was nominated for a Tony Award in 2015 for Spring Awakening.
Clint Ramos is the costume designer. He was nominated for a Tony Award for Eclipsed in 2016.
Norm Lewis was nominated for a Tony Award in 2012 for Porgy and Bess.
Phillip Boykin was nominated for a Tony Award and Drama Desk Award in 2012 for Porgy and Bess.
The play was nominated for eight Tony Awards in 1991. The original London production won a Laurence Olivier Award in 1995 for Best Musical.
The setting is an island in the French Antilles, then and now.
There is a storm on the island. Ti Moune (Mia Williamson) is separated from her mother. We assume she is dead. When the storm is over Mama Euralie (Kenita KR. Miller) and her husband Tonton Julia (Phillip Boykin) see her in a tree. Mama Euralie wants to get her, Tonton doesn’t. But they do and raise her as their own daughter.
As Ti Moune (Hailey Kilgore) become a young women, she questions her purpose in life.
There is a car accident. Daniel (Isaac Powell) is left in the car; no one wants to help him. It seems he is from the rich side of the island were peasants are keep out by a gate. Ti Moune brings him home while her father goes to tell his family what happened. He almost dies. She trades her soul for his so he can live. Papa Ge (Tamyra Gray) tells her, that her life now belongs to her. She is the sly demon of Death.
Daniel is taken back home.
Ti Moune is so in love with him she leaves her parents despite their misgivings to find him. When she does find him he doesn’t remember her. He is so sick. She brings him back to good health. They become lovers. However his father Arman (David Jennings) forbids him to marry her, she is a peasant. He tells her they can always be lovers. Ti Moune is told by Papa Ge that she has to kill him or lose her life. She can’t do it. Daniel marries Andrea (Alysha Deslorieux). This is a prearranged marriage. When he finds out about her almost killing him he throws he out of the gate. She is devastated.
What happened, what we learn about Daniels family history you will have to see the musical?
Some of the cast members play several roles, Gods, people on the island both peasants and the rich, Island Gods (Lea Salonga and Alex Newell) and finally story tellers. Agwe a story teller is played by Norm Lewis.
When you come into the theatre on the top of the stairs are clothes and shoes on the walls. During one scene some of the cast members come up and put some of the clothes and shoes on.
Before the show starts cast members come out. The beach is dirty and Agwe is picking it up the garbage and putting it in a bag. There is a little girl (Mia Williamson) reading a book. A cage with a chicken is on the beach. A real goat is brought on stage. Cast member approach people in the audience and make comments to them. Someone waiting for the cast to come out said they said he had a nice tie on.
The cast is outstanding. Norm Lewis, Phillip Boykin, Hailey Kilgore and Alex Newell voices were mesmerizing.
The set done by Dane Laffrey was unusual to say the least but very good.
This is a fantastic story of an island with it fairy tale story. There is love, deceit, folk lore’s, forgiveness and more. Don’t miss this show.
Review by Rozanna Radakovich.
Photos by Annazor.
To read a candid interview with the cast, scroll to the left for photos. Click on photos for this and other shows.