Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty’s Once on This Island celebrates its official opening night at Broadway's Circle in the Square December 3. The revival, directed by Tony nominee Michael Arden (Deaf West’s Spring Awakening), began performances November 9.
Ken Davenport and Hunter Arnold are lead producers on the first-ever Broadway revival of the 1990 musical, which marked the Broadway debut of Tony-winning musical theatre writing team Ahrens and Flaherty.
Tune in to Playbill's coverage of the opening-night celebration, beginning at approximately 9:45 PM ET, on Facebook Live.
Once on This Island unfolds as a group of storytellers—caught in the midst of an unrelenting storm—recount the tale of Ti Moune, a Caribbean island country girl in love with an aristocrat. The musical is based on the novella My Love, My Love by Rosa Guy.
Arden takes the framing device one step farther by setting the storytellers on an island left the aftermath of a devastating hurricane. “We are taking a look at disaster, like we’ve seen in Haiti, and how that can be a metaphor for how we all rebuild,” Arden said.
Arden’s collaborators on the revival are Once on This Island’s original orchestrator, Tony Award winner Michael Starobin, and vocal arranger AnnMarie Milazzo, a musical force behind Spring Awakening and If/Then.
Once on This Island’s score has been rebuilt by creating a new sonic palette built on multi-layered vocal orchestrations, along with instruments made out of found objects, including trash bins, flexible piping, and more. Starobin and composer Flaherty have retained segments of the score’s traditional Broadway musical pit instrumentation.
The cast of storytellers who transform into gods, peasants, and wealthy island dwellers boasts Miss Saigon Tony Award winner Lea Salonga (Erzulie, goddess of love), Glee groundbreaker Alex Newell (Asaka, mother of the earth), Merle Dandridge (Papa Ge, demon of death), and Quentin Earl Darrington (Agwe, god of water), as well as Tony nominee Phillip Boykin (Tonton Julian), Kenita R. Miller (Mama Euralie), Isaac Powell (Daniel), Alysha Deslorieux (Andrea), and David Jennings (Armand).
Hailey Kilgore, an 18-year-old Broadway newcomer who was a student at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy at the time of her audition, is cast in the breakout role of Ti Moune, a young peasant girl who is sent on a journey by the gods.
The role was originated on Broadway by LaChanze, who earned a 1990 Tony Award nomination for her performance.
Take a Sneak Peek at Once on This Island With Lea Salonga, Hailey Kilgore, and Alex Newell
Also featured in the cast are Darlesia Cearcy, Rodrick Covington, Cassondra James, David Jennings, Grasan Kingsberry, Tyler Hardwick, Loren Lott, T. Oliver Reid, and Aurelia Williams.
The creative team includes Dane Laffrey (scenic design), Clint Ramos (costume design), Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer (lighting designers), Peter Hylenski (sound designer), John Bertles/Bash The Trash (Unusual Instruments), Cookie Jordan (hair/wig & makeup designer), Chris Fenwick (music supervisor), Alvin Hough, Jr. (music director), David Perlow (associate director), Nikki M. James (assistant director), Rickey Tripp (associate choreographer), and Telsey + Co / Craig Burns, CSA (casting agent).
A limited number of $39.50 pre-show lottery tickets are available for each performance of Once on This Island. The lottery takes place at the Circle in the Square box office (235 W. 50th Street). Winners will be selected 90 minutes prior to each performance. Entries will be accepted beginning two hours before curtain. For Saturday matinee performances, the lottery will open two-and-a-half hours prior to curtain and take place two hours prior to curtain. For Sunday matinee performances, the lottery will open 90 minutes prior to curtain and take place 60 minutes prior to curtain.
Lead producers Davenport and Arnold are joined on the production by Carl Daikeler, Roy Putrino, Broadway Strategic Return Fund, Caiola Productions, H. Richard Hopper, Sandi Moran, Diego Kolankowsky, Brian Cromwell Smith, Ron Kastner, Rob Kolson, Judith Manocherian, Kevin Lyle, Jay Alix, Una Jackman, Jeff Wise, WitzEnd Productions, Jeff Grove, Wishnie-Strasberg, Mark Ferris, Michelle Riley, Marie Stevenson, The Harbert Family, Keith Cromwell, and Red Mountain Theatre Company. The associate producers are Kayla Greenspan and Valerie Novakoff.