Performances of “Once On This Island” run through May 8 at Town Hall Arts Center in Littleton, and this musical, based on Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale, “The Little Mermaid,” is one that’s a fine introduction to theatre for kids. The story is about a peasant girl who lives on one of the Caribbean islands and falls in love with a wealthy boy from the other side of the island.
Divided cultures keep them apart but the Island Gods decide to assist the heroine, Ti Moune (Camryn Nailah; Little Ti Moune, Sophia Stewart or Evan Duncan), as she seeks a way to reunite with her love, Daniel, played by Steffen Beal ...
The cast dances its way through this tale, directed by Betty Hart, with choreography by Christopher Page-Sanders, who skillfully moves this large cast as the story progresses.
Costumes by David J. Castellano are created from brightly printed fabrics that make a colorful, swirling scene as gods and islanders dance through this story ... Hart was aided in crafting this complex work by assistant director Mykai Eastman and music director Lee Ann Scherlong, with orchestrated tracks created by Donna Debreceni. (There is not a live band.)
Scenic design by Phil Cope, lighting by Vance McKenzie and sound by Curt Behm complete a complicated production.
Included in special effects is “the worst storm the gods had ever sent!”
Daniel is injured and Ti Moune is able to heal him eventually, with help from a god.
Writer Lynn Ahrens, a veteran Broadway writer, has often worked with composer Steven Flaherty, and has won numerous awards, including Tony (this show), Drama Desk, Outer Critic’s Circle Awards for Musical Theatre, and more. Ahrens also wrote “Ragtime,” “Seussical,” “Man of Importance,’ “Rose,” “Little Dancer” and more ...
The performance on Sunday, May 8 will include a talkback with cast and crew immediately following.
The large cast includes: Camryn Nailah as Ti Moune; Evan Duncan and Sophia Stevens as Little Ti Moune; Stefan Beal as Daniel; Arabella Beaubrun as Asaka; Nicole Siegler as Erzulie; Nnamdi Nwankwo as Agwe; Heidi Carann Snider as Papa Ge; Rob Payo as Tonton Julian and Daniel’s father. Also: Marcelina Ramirez as Mama Euralie; Victoria Perez as Andrea/ensemble; Michaela Murray, ensemble; Jahalia Coleman, ensemble; Sophia Montoya-Suson, ensemble; Isaac Rosen, ensemble; (Ilina Lucero Barron, understudy).
Kids who attend will especially enjoy the colorful costumes and dancing actors, I think. The performance is lively, well-directed and will certainly hold their interest throughout.
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