Once On This Island – Live Theatre Back At Moonlight Amphitheater

The Cast of Once on This Island photo by Ken JAcques

Review By Kathy Carpenter

Full cast of Once on this Island- photo by Ken Jacques

Welcome back! Moonlight Amphitheater presents “Once on This Island The Musical.” A welcoming story that’s a perfect fit for today’s climate. Why this story? This is beautiful tale filled with community and family. These are connections we all need after the past 15 months. The musical is compelling, colorful, and joy filled – experiences we need to bring back into our lives.

While the  cast is smaller than Moonlight’s normal productions, it is just as powerful. As we build back to normal, it is nice to see a good sized crowd out enjoying themselves on a Sunday evening,

Brooke Henderson as Ti Moune photo courtesy of Kan JAcques

The story is the retelling of The Little Mermaid. But I would never recognize it. The fact that the heroine is fixated on a world that is not hers is the only resemblance . It is a timeless tale of love and folklore, a romance and the  story of selfless love. It takes place on Antilles Island in the Caribbean. Moonlighter’s production team has done an excellent job bringing us the Island flavor in this tale of the peasants and the affluent islanders.  Ti Moune is a peasant and our guide through the story. She leads us on a journey designed to overcome fears and obstacles in life. Her message is to follow our hearts no matter what, leading to an ending the Islanders proclaim as joyful. Not so much in my case. Spoiler alert, the story does take on some unexpected twists.

Paul David Bryant, is the Director & Choreographer, lending his magic to the show. Maya Washington , is little Ti Moune, bringing a youthful innocence the role called for. Brooke Henderson, plays the older Ti Moune with a beautiful voice, just what we’ve been missing in streaming plays. The whole company fully entertained, with their Island singing, dancing, and colorful costumes.

Brooke Henderson and Ala Tiatia-garaud photo by Ken Jacques

The cast was a perfect, and natural fit. But remember, these Islanders are people from 2021 and even if they seemed apart of that world, they are not. This wasn’t natural to them and it took hard work made it look easy. Kudos.

The company consists of Ala Tiatia-Gahaud as Daniel, the male lead, a kind of hero. Patricia Jewel, as Ti Moune mama, brought her immense talent to the stage, along with Leo Ebanks as Julian, two mega-stars. Jocline Mixon, rocked Andrea. The talented cast rounds out with, Kevin “Blax Burroughs, Jodi Marks, Nathan Andrew Riley, Anise Ritchie, and Edred Utomi. A dynamite cast to welcome us back to live theatre.

The backdrop consists of a large video screen with Island and story elements.  The technology of moving objects over a set image was amazing, so cool. The magic of the rain was noteworthy.

Costumes, colorful, beautiful and oh so wonderful, especially, the Gods costumes with all the sparkle. I also, loved Ti Moune’s peasant dress, and Belle-like ball gown. A special thanks to 3-D Theatricals.

Ah, and there was a live five piece orchestra conducted by Lyndon Pugeda. Musical Island beats under the moonlight which was pure delight.

The show is filled with 20 beautiful islander tunes. Ending with the song “Why We Tell This Story,” which was very powerful. I experienced, life, pain, love, grief, hope, and faith. What more can you ask for in a story?

Who should go to this show? Everyone who loves musical theatre. We need to help bring the theatre world back.

Full cast of Once on this Island- photo by Ken Jacques

This season the Moonlight will bring us four shows focusing on the theme of community and storytelling. Once on This Island The Musical. Beauty and the Beast, A Chorus Line, and On Your Feet! The story of Emilio and Gloria Estaban.

Moonlight Amphitheater

Vista

Once On This Island The Musical

June 6 – Jul 3, 2021

www.moonlightstage.com

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