Le Petit’s ‘Once on This Island’ a life-affirming myth set to calypso beat

September 18, 2017 - tonton

Not bad for a 101 year old.

As Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre starts a post-centenary season, a grande lady of internal stages proves to have utterly a flog in her step with a sharp-witted and enterprising prolongation of “Once on This Island.”

With a calypso-Caribbean beats and a expel of mostly African-American performers, a prolongation also showcases how a princely museum is stability toward new directions by expanding a repertoire to paint a wider operation of a village it serves.

“Once on This Island,” with book and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and strain by Stephen Flaherty, is a contemporary angel story formed on a novel “My Love, My Love” by Rosa Guy. At a heart is a unhappy adore story of a bad immature lady on an island in a French West Indies who falls for a large male from a wealthier side of a island. It is a Caribbean consistent of Han Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid” and William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” with a handful of classical imaginary elements tossed into a mix.

As a whirly smashes into a island, a bankrupt villagers on one side of a island crowd together for safety. To ease a children, they start to tell a story of Ti Moune, certainly one of a many depressing characters in complicated musicals.

Idella Johnson and Robert Diago DoQui (foreground) execute Mama Euralie and Tonton Julian, a adoptive relatives of Ti Moune, who learn her in a tree following a hurricane. 

Orphaned in an progressing charge that devastates a island, she is detected perched in a tree and taken into a home of an comparison couple, Mama Euralie and Tonton Julian. As she grows, Ti Moune is watched over by a party of gods, infrequently protecting though mostly capriciously vicious in their toying with a immature girl.

Ti Moune encounters a terrible automobile crash, in that a abounding immature male from a other side of a island is exceedingly injured. As she takes it on herself to helper him behind to health, she falls in adore with him. Social, mercantile and secular differences chuck barriers adult between a two.

There is a grave existence to a groups presented by “Once on This Island” that is generally clever today. Its framing device of a extreme whirly distinguished a island resonates as we saw this month that those many imperiled are customarily those already pang in poverty. Even if usually on a brief outing from a resorts, anyone who has taken a journey to such an “island paradise” expected has seen some signs of a dual opposite worlds that contain life via a Caribbean.

While not sugar-coated, “Once on This Island” though rings with a suggestion of wish and perseverance.

This is exemplified by Shangobunmi Durotimi’s absolute opening as Ti Moune. She gives a impression a low compassion, invariable faith and a solidly life-affirming determination. Durotimi also delivers a stirring voice that sells a show’s ballads with potency.

Idella Johnson and Robert Diago DoQui offer touching performances as Mama Euralie and Tonton Julian. They share a honeyed chemistry, highlighted by appreciative moments of amusement that expresses a adore that has been by many in life. Their song, “Ti Moune,” in that they reluctantly let their daughter leave to find her destiny, truly moves a heart.

Vocals via a low-pitched are clever and it is a abounding garb piece. Several other performances do mount out creation noted impressions.

The party of gods are colorfully played. As a outsized Papa Ge, a Demon of Death, Bryan Demond Williams delivers a showiest opening of a night. Jessica Mixon brings a confidant and soulful voice to Asaka, a Mother of a Earth. Her “Mama Will Provide” is among a outspoken highlights.

Taylor E. James, personification Erzulie, a Goddess of Love, gives a pleasing opening of “The Human Heart,” a best strain of a score. Kebrun Woodfin colorfully portrays Agwe, a God of Water.

Luke Halpern brings a large participation and an reasonably detached temperament as a rich Daniel Beauxhomme, with whom Ti Moune falls in love.

The clever garb is dull out by a contingent of Storytellers, Ebony Duely Johnson, Whitney Mixon and Lloyd Meekins; as good as Kathleen Moore, Sean Richmond and Paris Robertson.

Maxwell Williams leads a uncover with a solid hand, crisply progressing a snap by a intermission-less 90 minutes. Even amid a incessant suit and appetite created, Williams displays a simpatico bargain of a impression that a low-pitched demands. For all of a vigour and splendid score, it contingency say a folkloric feel.

Emanuel Burke conducts a offstage rope with flair. With a bouncy, calypso-based score, it could be tantalizing to benefaction “Once on This Island” as a brightly illuminated and colorful Carnival cartoon. Jean Kim’s set designs, illuminated by Andrew Griffin, and Julie Winn’s costumes concede for splashes of tone though never overcome their characters.

Choreographer Polanco Jones follows a identical proceed with his stylishly gaseous dances, that also share that organic feel of a sets and costumes, emanating from a characters as many as they do from a complicated studio.

As a uncover is mostly sung through, one competence oppose that Ahrens’ words is too slight in a impression development. However, like classical fables and good ancient myths, a total of “Once on This Island” good paint a operation of tellurian emotions in ways that still bond today. “Our lives turn a stories that we weave,” a Storytellers sing in a end. At a insinuate core, it is a medium morality of a uncover that creates it a good match, as good as a many wise one, for a contemporary Le Petit stage.

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