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Once on this Island

a Musical
by Lynn Ahrens & Stephen Flaherty

COMPANY : Georgia Ensemble Theatre [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Georgia Ensemble Theatre and Conservatory [WEBSITE]
ID# 5133

SHOWING : September 14, 2017 - October 01, 2017



You are beckoned to the sunny and starlit Caribbean, where GET will bring the house down with a rousing Calypso-flavored score and highly charged dance from Atlanta’s most revered musical theatre director and choreographer, Ricardo Aponte.

From the Tony Award-winning Broadway Musical writing duo of "Ragtime" and "Anastasia" comes the richly rewarding Olivier Award winner "Once On This Island."

The story of a simple island girl who turns into a beautiful young woman searching for her capacity to love. Picture "The Lion King" and "The Little Mermaid" brought together with exhilarating Caribbean rhythms. Experience this romantic theatrical experience right here in Roswell before its upcoming Broadway revival.

Director Ricardo Aponte
Tonton Julian Robert Connor
Mama Euralie Terry Henry
Armand/Gatekeeper/Daniel’s Father Marcus Hopkins-Turner
Asaka Mahalia Jackson
Daniel Beauxhomme/Beauxhomme/Daniel’s Christian Magby
Ti Moune/Peasant Girl India Sada Tyree
Papa Ge Brian Walker
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production


A Feast for the Eyes; an Assault on the Ears
by playgoer
Monday, September 25, 2017
Georgia Ensemble Theatre’s production of "Once on This Island" takes place on a formidable set by Isabel and Mariah Curley-Clay. It represents a cave, and the concept is that the cast members are taking shelter during a storm that ends as the show does. The set allows nice stage pictures, with lots of levels for people to pose on, but it’s a fairly brooding presence throughout, which works against the brightness of the music.

Alex Riviere’s lighting design generally highlights the ongoing action, but has a few effects that don’t work particularly well. The hole in the back wall shows pretty much the same blue as the storm is brewing and after it has ended. Patterns of lights appear on the cave walls a couple of times, for no apparent reason. The band area stage left is lit brightly when music is largely percussion. These effects add to the visual interest of stage pictures, but draw unnecessary attention to themselves. One effect that does work is green tree foliage suddenly appearing above the stage, on top of roots that have been hanging in the cave all along.

Preston Goodson’s sound design is on the loud side. The balance between band and voices is such that singers have to soldier on through sheer lung power, which does nothing to enhance the vocal quality of the performances. There are a lot of good voices onstage, but no one is allowed to show his or her voice off to advantage, at least not consistently. They’re all blasting away in order to be heard. Musical director S. Renee Clark and overall director Ricardo Aponte have to share responsibility for the almost unrelieved fortissimo at which the score is sung.

Mr. Aponte’s background is in dance, and his choreography and staging are splendid. I often found myself thinking that the look of the show was ravishing, but that I might prefer to see it lipsynced to the original cast recording. Dance moves are gauged to the capabilities of the cast, allowing Brian Walker to leap to superhuman heights and Adrianna Trachell to glide gracefully and expressively, while others perform more manageable moves. Emmie Tuttle’s costumes employ bright colors only for the women’s dresses, seeming somewhat costume-y as a result, but they add to the visual appeal.

For my taste, performances are too reminiscent of theatre for children. There’s a broadness and pedagogic quality in the portrayal of some characters. There’s an actual child in the cast too, but Myshay Pretty is one of the highlights of the show. Her biography in the program states that she "always strives for excellence," and I believe it. She’s a powerhouse dancer, a good singer, and projects with clear diction. Marcus Hopkins-Turner deserves part of the credit for her performance, since she rests on his shoulders for large segments of the choreography.

Acting is adequate throughout, but the show emphasizes vocal power and stage pictures over emotional depth, and no performance captures the heart of the audience. This is the sort of production it’s easy to admire, but difficult to love. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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