Once On This Island, With Syesha Mercado, Darius de Haas, Saycon Sengbloh, Begins Paper Mill Run

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30 May 2012

Syesha Mercado in rehearsal
Syesha Mercado in rehearsal
Photo by Monica Simoes

The Paper Mill Playhouse's production of Once On This Island, which features book and lyrics by Tony winners Lynn Ahrens and music by Stephen Flaherty, begins previews May 30. A multi-ethnic cast and new orchestrations are part of the experience.

More than 20 years after its premiere, Flaherty and Ahrens have reinvented their first musical with Tony-nominated director Thomas Kail (In the Heights, Lombardi, Magic/Bird) and choreographer Bradley Rapier ("So You Think You Can Dance").

Opening night is scheduled for June 3, and the limited engagement will continue through June 24 in Millburn, NJ.

"American Idol" finalist Syesha Mercado stars as Ti Moune with Darius de Haas as Agwe, Kevin R. Free as Tonton Julian, Adam Jacobs as Daniel, Kenita R. Miller as Mama Euralie, Alan Mingo, Jr. as Papa Ge, Courtney Reed as Andrea, Saycon Sengbloh as Erzulie, Jerold E. Solomon as Armand/Daniel's Father, Aurelia Williams as Asaka and Courtney Harris as Little Ti Moune.

"There have been many wonderful incarnations of Once On This Island over the years," stated lyricist Ahrens, "but we're really excited about Paper Mill's ... production, a re-imagining which we think will be extraordinary." Composer Flaherty added, "The multi-ethnic cast is stunning, the re-conceived orchestrations are gorgeous, and from what we've seen so far, the sets are a knockout. All in all, we can't wait!"



Lynne Shankel is the music director and orchestrator.

The production also includes scenic design by Donyale Werle, costumes by Jessica Jahn, lighting design by Kenneth Posner, sound design by Randy Hansen and hair and wig design by Bettie O. Rogers. The production stage manager is Lisa Dawn Cave.

Once On This Island, a theatrical Caribbean adaptation of the popular fairy tale "The Little Mermaid," garnered eight Tony nominations in 1991 for its Broadway run, including Best Musical, Book and Score.

"In almost non-stop song and dance, the show tells the story of Ti Moune, a peasant girl who rescues and falls in love with Daniel, a wealthy boy from the other side of her island," according to Paper Mill. "When Daniel is returned to his people, the fantastical gods who rule the island guide Ti Moune on a quest to test the strength of her love against the powerful forces of prejudice, hatred and death."

Tickets may be purchased by calling (973) 376-4343, at the Paper Mill Playhouse Box Office at 22 Brookside Drive in Millburn, or online at papermill.org.