Billy Porter directs the production, which officially opens Sept. 3 and plays through Sept. 14. Bradley Rapier, founder of the Groovaloos, choreographs with musical direction by Darryl Archibald.
The cast features 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 previous 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 two-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," "The Human Heart" 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.
The Reprise season will continue with I Love My Wife, which features music by the late Cy Coleman and book and lyrics by Michael Stewart, running Dec. 2-14 at the Brentwood Theatre on the V.A. campus. Larry Moss will direct a cast that includes artistic director Jason Alexander as well as Vicki Lewis and Steven Weber.
The season's most well-known offering is Dale Wasserman, Mitch Leigh and Joe Darion's Man of La Mancha, which will be seen at the Freud Playhouse Feb. 17, 2009-March 1, 2009. More than 3,300 underserved youth will be able to attend this production thanks to a partnership grant from The Sheri and Les Biller Family Foundation.
The Reprise season will conclude with the rock musical Chess, which boasts a score by Abba's Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus and lyrics by Tony Award winner Tim Rice. This production of Chess, which features such tunes as "One Night in Bangkok" and "I Know Him So Well," will boast a new book penned by Richard Maltby, Jr. and will play the Freud Playhouse May 5-17, 2009.