Billy Porter will direct the production, which will play UCLA's Freud Playhouse Sept. 2-14 with an official opening Sept. 3. Bradley Rapier, founder of the Groovaloos, will choreograph with musical direction by Darryl Archibald.
The cast will feature newcomer Kristolyn Lloyd as Ti Moune, Grammy nominee Ledisi as Asaka with Yvette Cason as Mama Euralie, Brian Chandler as Armand/Daniel's Father, Bryan Terrell Clark as Papa Ge, Vanita Harbour as Andrea, Darina Littleton as Little Ti Moune, Jesse Nager as Daniel, Leslie Odom, Jr. as Agwe, Lance Roberts as Ton Ton Julien and Nita Whitaker as Erzulie.
In a statement director Porter said, "Once on This Island is a study in contrasts: rich versus poor, immortal versus mortal, light versus dark, life versus death. We have taken what many think are disparate elements - hip-hop/soul, gospel, jazz, musical theatre, pop, and blues - and like the play itself, we are bringing them together to tell the story.
"We have chosen a cast of performers - including 2-time Grammy nominated Ledisi whose roots are in theatre as well as African American contemporary music. These artists embody and fuse these differing styles, with the hope of creating a theatrical event that embraces relevancy. And as my primary collaborator, we have Bradley Rapier, who brings his hip hop background - a style influenced in part by African tribal dances and in part from American streets - to help bring Once on This Island to life."
The musical features book and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and music by Stephen Flaherty, the creators of Ragtime, Dessa Rose, A Man of No Importance and Seussical, among others. The original 1991 Broadway production of Once on This Island received nine Tony Award nominations, including one for Best Musical. The show tells the story of the orphaned Ti Moune and features such tunes as "Waiting for Life" and "Mama Will Provide." Graciela Daniele choreographed and directed the Broadway mounting, which featured LaChanze as Ti Moune.
Tickets are available by visiting www.reprise.org or by calling the UCLA Central Ticket Office at (310) 825-2101.