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Review

Once On This Island
by Studio 3 Performing Arts

The Show: 

Hans Christian Andersenís classic tale of The Little Mermaid has been adapted by Rosa Guy into the beautiful, heartbreaking, but hopeful story of the peasant island girl Ti Moune who falls in love with Daniel, a son of the French nobility that rules her Caribbean island. Her love is so strong that she makes a deal with Papa Ge, the Demon of Death, to sacrifice her life in order to save Daniel's. But class and racial prejudices are strong emotions as well, and the Frenchman Daniel may not be willing to defy his family and his upbringing that seek to keep the two apart. Itís a powerful and touching story of hopeless love, and of one girl who still loves despite its hopelessness. Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty have transformed the story into a highly popular musical full of poetic lyrics, engaging reggae, and mesmerizing ballads.

The Production: 

Studio 3 is also a dance studio, and it shows in this vibrant production directed and choreographed by Emma England. Dance is used to create the island atmosphere in which Ti Moune lives and to nicely flesh out the characters. Itís all performed by an ensemble whose talent and charisma keeps the audience of their intimate theater space completely immersed within the flavor of the island. They shine in everything from the opening number to developing the relationships between the sprightly Little Ti Moune (Ryan Donovan-Schager) and her parents, to the dramatic Rain sequence, the joyous Mama Will Provide, and the hopeful Why We Tell the Story.  

As Ti Moune, Jessica Webb is the heart of that story, and she sets the stage nicely with her singing and dancing of Waiting for Life to Begin and later dancing in front of the nobility who start out judging her and end up dancing with her. When her heart lies in the balance between love and life, she helps deliver a strong climactic scene. Daniel, the rich man with whom she falls into forbidden love, is sensitively portrayed by Jonah Carlson who also delivers some nice vocals about the girls you marry and the girls you love. Alexia Filler completes the love triangle as a jealous Andrea dismissive of Ti Mouneís poorer background. A background filled with the love of her adoptive parents, featuring genuinely tender performances by Marty Loehr as Tonton Julian and Emma Welch as Mama Euralie.  

And playing with the fates of all the mortals are the four island gods with Jenna Thrush singing of The Human Heart as a gentle goddess of Love, Savoy Thompson setting up the test as Agwe bringing down the dramatic Rain, deep-voiced Caleb Foreman challenging the mortal Ti Moune as the ominous god of Death, and Jacqueline Brecker using great voice, personality, and dancing as the fun and lively goddess of the earth who leads the people, the animals, and the storytellers in a zesty celebration of life.

Performed June 29 - July 1, 2012

Rob Hopper
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Executive Director
National Youth Arts

~ Cast ~ 

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Storyteller: Gracie Bare
Asaka: Jacqueline Brecker
Ensemble: Kaitlyn Brecker
Ensemble: Ellie Brooks
Daniel: Jonah Carlson
Little Ti Moune: Ryan Donovan-Schager
Andrea: Alexia Filler
Ensemble: Peyton Filler
Papa Ge: Caleb Foreman
Ensemble: Kelton Foreman
Storyteller: Kenna Goodrich
Storyteller: Alexa Kowalski
Ensemble: Amanda Krainski
Tonton Julian: Marty Loehr
Ensemble: Hailey Martin
Ensemble: Jessie Parker
Storyteller: Dylan Pinion
Ensemble: Austin Porter
Ensemble: Carli Putler
Ensemble: Shawna Roden
Daniel's Father: Konnor Smith
Ensemble: Kristine Thomas
Little Girl: Belemi Thompson
Little Boy: Makalo Thompson
Agwe: Savoy Thompson
Erzulie: Jenna Thrush
Storyteller: Shianne Tompkins
Ensemble: Jessica Wastchak
Ensemble: Ambert Watson
Ensemble: Becca Webb
Ti Moune: Jessica Webb
Storyteller: Tatum Weight
Mama Euralie: Emma Welch
Gatekeeper: Ben Wright
Ensemble: Emily Wright

Director/Music Director/Choreographer: Emma England
Assistant Director: Jacqueline Rushing
Dance Captain: Elizabeth Jacobs
Scenic and Lighting Design: Emma England
Costume Design: Emma England and Amy Filler
Hair and Makeup Design: Emma England
Sound Design: Aldy Montufar
Properties Design: Carol Webb

   

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