Once on this Island

A New Musical
Book and Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens
Music by Stephen Flaherty
Based upon the novel "My Love, My Love", by Rosa Guy **

July 23rd - July 26th at 8 pm
July 26th at 2 pm
July 30th - August 2nd at 8 pm
August 2nd at 2 pm
August 6th - August 9th at 8 pm

Director/Choreographer: Johanna Boyce
Music Director: Wendy Valastro
Co-Producers: Jo Sabel Courtney & Amena Smith
Assistant Director: Andrea Cronan
Assistant Music Director: Carol Wilcox Schein
Stage Manager: Cathy Rylant
Technical Director: Jack von Behren
Lighting Design: Patrick Clow
Set Decor: Rick Loya
Costume Design: Donna Collins
Properties: Evelyn Frey
Assistant Choreographer: Emily Bickford

"Once On This Island delivers melody, love and joy in tropical abundance"

Once On This Island, an enchanting musical fable, tells the story of forbidden love between people from two different worlds. Originally inspired by Hans Christian Anderson's The Little Mermaid, the Broadway show transports the story to a Caribbean island where social prejudice divides the island. Presented as a 'play within a play', a cast of village storytellers, attempting to calm a frightened young child, tell the romantic tale of a peasant girl who saves a rich city boy from death.

Once On This Island is magnificent musical theater. Sets, costumes, and lighting all interconnect to create the beautifully expressive fabric of Afro-Caribbean culture. As in older societies, where music and dance are integral to cultural and religious expression, so, in this show, continuous song and dance viscerally express the story. Dancing, high spirited, rhythmic, and electrifying, combines with lush ballads and celebratory, rousing choral numbers.

Created by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty (Ragtime, Suessical, Anastasia), the original Broadway show focused on class distinction and racial prejudice. Realizing that amateur theater groups may be limited in multi-racial casting, the authors supply text alterations which allow for the social prejudice to be presented through class and wealth distinction, not skin color. This is the approach that the Stowe Theatre Guild will take for the production.

The directorial team of Once On This Island is committed to creating a compelling production developed from a stimulating and supportive rehearsal process. Extended physical warm ups will be an integral part of rehearsal as dance is used extensively as an expressive vehicle.

Director/Choreographer: Johanna Boyce

Before moving to Vermont in 1990, Johanna Boyce was the director of her own avant garde dance company based in NYC. Her company performed at venues throughout the United States and Europe including The American Dance Festival, Boulder Dance Festival, Walker Art Center, Dance Theater Workshop, The Kitchen and Jacob's Pillow. She is a recipient of The New York Dance and Performance Arts award and received five Choreography Fellowships from the NEA.

Locally, Johanna has choreographed for Williston and CVU school productions as well as for Stowe Theater Guild's production of Peter Pan and Lyric Theater's productions of Annie, Peter Pan, Sound of Music, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and is currently in working on Secret Garden.

Musical Director: Wendy Valastro

Wendy Valastro is a graduate of the Eastman Preparatory School of Music, the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music, and the University of Michigan School of Education. She has been teaching for 25 years, most of it in the publicschool system as a music educator or primary classroom teacher. Wendy is co-founder and co-director of Kidshow, a musical theatre camp for children, now in its 20th year. She is also the Music Director at Temple Sinai in South Burlington. Her theater involvement has included producing and directing shows in her school district as well as music directing and acting in shows for community theater. For Lyric Theater, she has been Music Director for five shows: Annie, Man of La Mancha, Pippin, Fiddler on the Roof, and The Sound of Music. She has also been a cast member in two productions. Wendy lives in South Burlington with her husband, James, and two daughters, Elana and Laura. She is looking forward to being Music Director for Once On This Island with the Stowe Theater Guild because the beautiful music and the story have such a wonderful message.

PLOT SYNOPSIS

There are a maximum of 18 roles in ONCE ON THIS ISLAND. All the cast members are storytellers; storytellers who join together during an Island storm to calm a small child, and together enact the tale of TiMoune, a young girl rescued from a flood by Gods who seem to have planned a special destiny for her. TiMoune is adopted by caring parents and raised in a peasant village which is socially separate from the rich city behind gates on the other side of the island. TiMoune grows into adulthood wishing for more in her life than the peasant life she knows and entreats the Gods of Water, Earth, Love and Death to help her begin her destiny. The God of Water devises a plan by which she meets a boy from the wealthy caste forbidden to her, and the Gods wager whether she will trade life for love.

The boy, Daniel Beauxhommes, is mortally injured in an accident near TiMoune’s village. TiMoune discovers him, but the God of Death is also present to claim his life. The God of Death decides to test TiMoune and gives her the choice of trading her life for Daniel’s. TiMoune accepts the trade, saving Daniel from death. She now belongs to the God of Death and is his to take when he wants.

TiMoune brings Daniel to her village to nurse him to health, setting off a panic among the villagers who are fearful of any interaction with the rich, powerful Beauxhommes. They furiously pray to the Gods who they fear TiMoune has angered by challenging the social system.

Daniel is eventually taken back to his home in the city. Although her parents express their concern, TiMoune follows him, encouraged by the Goddess of Earth. She convinces Daniel to let her stay with him to better help him heal. Daniel falls in love with TiMoune whose simplicity and sweet innocence make her unlike other girls he has known. The Goddess of Love, seeing TiMoune’s selfless and pure love, declares that TiMoune will live forever through the power of her love, thus overcoming the limitations of death. The God of Death does not believe that love can triumph over death and the 2 Gods engage in a battle for TiMoune’s soul.

The villagers and city dwellers gossip among themselves about the couple’s relationship. Daniel is already engaged to Andrea Devereaux, a match made by their families when they were children. TiMoune learns of the engagement at a Ball given by Daniel’s family. She is heartbroken and tries to convince Daniel to marry her instead, but Daniel is locked within his society.

The God of Death gives TiMoune a chance to save herself from his bargain, by killing Daniel. Unwilling to kill her love, TiMoune succumbs to death, but the beauty of her self sacrifice moves the Gods to transform her spirit into a tree. The tree’s roots grow deep and break through the gates of the city, breaking down the barriers that separated the city from the village. And in time, a young village girl sitting in the tree meets and falls in love with Daniel’s son and TiMoune’s spirit sets them free to love.

The storytellers finish their tale, encouraging the little girl, who is now calmed, to keep the story alive so people can learn from it. The storm ends, the stars come out and the little girl turns to the audience to tell a story.
FOR MORE PHOTOS CLICK HERE!

**Originally Directed and Choreographed on Broadway
by Graciela Daniele, Playwrights Horizons, Inc.
Originally produced on Broadway by the Shubert Organization, Capital Cities/ABC, Inc.
Suntory International Corporation and James Walsh
In association with Playwrights Horizon

 

Cast

  • The Storytellers
    Little TiMoune -
    Grace Blewer, Alison Smith, Elana Valastro
    TiMoune - Charlotte Munson
    Daniel Beauxhomme - Billy Hannon, Jr.
    Papa Ge (Demon of Death) - Patrick Clow
    Erzulie (Goddess of Love) - Serena Magnan
    Asaka (Mother of Earth) - Jennifer Warwick-Sokolowski
    Agwe (God of Water) - James Blanchard
    Mama Euralie - Kelly Kendall
    Tonton Julian - Steve Kendall
    Andrea Devereaux - Ebby Rylant
    Armand Beauxhomme - Mark Leopold
  • The Peasants -
    Nick Caycedo
    Grace Freeman
    Elisabeth Gerber
    Amena Smith

    The Peasants/Grandhommes -
    Jo Sabel Courtney
    Lori Lisai
    Josh Slade

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