Once On This Island is a captivating legend of romance between a peasant girl and a rich city boy whom she saves from death. This calypso-flavoured re-telling of The Little Mermaid opens on a Caribbean island where villagers comfort a little girl with the story of the orphan Ti Moune, destined to love too much for the human heart to bear.
Story: During a terrible thunderstorm the following story is told in an effort to calm a frightened young girl: Once on this island in the time of black slaves and Creole aristocrats, the orphan Ti Moune fell in love with the well-born mulatto landowner Daniel as she nursed him following a car accident. However, they could never marry: his skin colour was creamy coffee, hers was black jet. Ti Moune made a pact with the local gods - her life for Daniel’s. He survived to marry another, and she died of grief, but the gods turned her into a palm tree and she was able to provide shelter for Daniel’s home for all his life.Synopsis complet
Once on This Island was originally staged at Off-Broadway's Playwrights Horizons, running from May 6, 1990 through May 27, 1990. The Broadway production opened on October 18, 1990 at the Booth Theatre and closed on December 1, 1991, after 469 performances and 19 previews. With direction and choreography by Graciela Daniele, the musical featured LaChanze as Ti Moune, Jerry Dixon as Daniel, Andrea Frierson as Erzulie, Sheila Gibbs as Mama Euralie, Kecia Lewis as Asaka, Gerry McIntyre as Armand, Milton Craig Nealy as Agwe, Eric Riley as Papa Ge, Ellis E. Williams as Tonton Julian and Afi McClendon as Little Ti Moune. In 2002, the original Broadway cast was reunited with special guest Lillias White to perform the show for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and the Cantor Fitzgerald Relief Fund.
The European premiere took place in 1994, hosted by the Birmingham Rep, and then transferred to the West End Royalty Theatre (now the Peacock Theatre) in September 1994. The production won the Olivier Award for Best New Musical.
The musical was revived in the UK in 2009 at Birmingham Rep, Nottingham Playhouse, and the Hackney Empire Theatre in London. Susie McKenna directed, with Sharon D. Clarke reprising her 1994 role as Asaka.
In June 2012, the Paper Mill Playhouse presented a production directed by Thomas Kail, Syesha Mercado as Ti Moune and Darius de Haas as Agwe.
• Prologue/"We Dance" - Storytellers
• "One Small Girl" - Mama Euralie, Tonton Julian, Little Ti Moune, and Storytellers
• "Waiting for Life" - Ti Moune and Storytellers
• "And the Gods Heard Her Prayer" - Asaka, Agwe, Erzulie, and Papa Ge
• "Rain" - Agwe and Storytellers
• "Pray" - Ti Moune, Mama Euralie, Tonton Julian, Guard and Storytellers
• "Forever Yours" - Ti Moune, Daniel and Papa Ge
• "The Sad Tale of the Beauxhommes" - Armand and Storytellers (Cut from MTI's Junior Version)
• "Ti Moune"- Ti Moune, Mama Euralie, Tonton Julian
• "Mama Will Provide" - Asaka and Storytellers
• "Waiting for Life" (Reprise) - Ti Moune (Cut from MTI's Junior Version)
• "Some Say" - Storytellers (Cut from MTI's Junior Version)
• "The Human Heart" - Erzulie and Storytellers
• "Pray" (Reprise) - Storytellers
• "Some Girls" - Daniel (Cut from MTI's Junior Version)
• "The Ball" - Andrea, Daniel, Ti Moune, and Storytellers
• "When We Are Wed" - Andrea, Daniel and Ti Moune (Partially cut in MTI's Junior Version)
• "Forever Yours" (Reprise) - Papa Ge, Ti Moune, Erzulie, and Storytellers
• "A Part of Us" - Mama Euralie, Tonton Julian, Little Ti Moune, and Storytellers
• "Why We Tell the Story" - Storytellers
Cut songs include "Come Down From the Tree" and "When Daniel Marries". "Come Down From the Tree", was a song for Mama Euralie; it is included in several recordings, including Audra McDonald's How Glory Goes.
• Ti Moune, a peasant girl
• Daniel Beauxhomme, a grande homme; Ti Moune's love interest ("Beauxhomme" means "beautiful man").
• Papa Ge, sly Demon of Death; the main antagonist of the show. He tricks the main character into giving her life for another. He is seen as a skeleton and is very sneaky. The people on the island fear him because of what he represents: the unknown that is death.
• Erzulie, beautiful Goddess of Love; the foil to Papa Ge
• Agwe, God of Water
• Asaka, Mother of the Earth
• Mama Euralie, Ti Moune's adoptive mother
• Tonton Julian, Ti Moune's adoptive father
• Andrea Deveraux, Daniel's promised wife; also "Madame Armand"
• Armand, Daniel's stern father; also "Armand", the ancestor
• Gatekeeper, the Hotel Beauxhomme's fierce guard (commonly played by Armand)
• Little Ti Moune, Ti Moune as a child; also "The Little Girl"
• Daniel's Son, Daniel's young son (commonly played by Daniel)
• Storytellers/Gossips, various Grands Hommes and peasants (in most productions, the storytellers are shown as playing the parts of the Gods)
Note: The original cast was chosen along racial lines, with darker-skinned actors portraying the peasants, and lighter-skinned actors portraying the upper-class landowners. In the script, the writers provide small line changes that can be used to remove references to skin color to accommodate multi-ethnic productions, while preserving the storyline about differences between the upper and lower classes.
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