Once On This Island Broadway is a totally triumphant celebration of theatre.
Everything about this production is phenomenal. The set, which features fire, rain, water, sand (the whole stage), the back of a truck, a boat, the parts of a car, and more. The costumes, which are so simple yet creative. The lighting which is genius. It’s very artistically inspiring in so many ways.
The story, which tells of a young girl fighting the way things are ‘meant to be,’ inspires. Her purpose is to bridge the gap between classes and people of ‘different worlds.’ And though she may not achieve her immediate dream, she does have an impact and bring the world one step closer to what she wanted. At times, I found myself wondering why she was so in love with someone she had never spoken to. But as an audience, you also must take a step back and realize that this is a different time with different value sets. Ti Moune wanted more out of life, she was young and passionate and determined to achieve a great romance. It’s more easily understood looking at it that way. As do so many shows today, it carries a very poignant social message.
The CAST. They’re phenomenal. Hailey Kilgore as Ti Moune is Tony worthy. Of all of the performances I have seen from leading actresses in a musical so far this season, hers stands out the most. I believe she’s only 19 years old (?) and she’s incredible as an actress, singer and dancer. She will go far. Isaac Powell is charming and likeable as Daniel, a role that doesn’t really give him full license to flex his talents, but does prove a nice introduction for an actor who is sure to go far. He has a lovely voice and a captivating presence.
The Gods, Asaka, Goddess of the Earth (normally played by Alex Newell who I saw in January, played last night by Aurelia Williams), Erzulie, Goddess of Love (Lea Salonga), Papa Gé (Tamyra Gray), and Agwe (Norm Lewis in January, Quintin Earl Darrington last night) are all exceptional in every single way. Newell and Williams both exuded a kindhearted warmth that filled the theatre, and expelled high notes that made my head spin. Lea Salonga is, as always, pitch perfect, touching and genuine. Tamyra Gray is menacing, with an incredible presence. Her voice is deep, booming and clear, she is perhaps the strongest of the four in the acting department. Quentin Earl Darrington is an EXCEPTIONAL vocalist, and as much as I love Norm Lewis, blew him out of the water (puns). Which is saying a lot because Norm was great.
The staging is so unique and exciting to watch. The whole show is truly mesmerizing, and I cannot wait to see it again. If you get a chance, DO NOT miss it.