PHOTO CALL: Syesha Mercado, Darius de Haas, Saycon Sengbloh and More Preview Paper Mill's Once On This Island
By Matthew Blank
Paper Mill Playhouse's upcoming production of Once On This Island, which features book and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and music by Stephen Flaherty, will begin May 30 with an official opening June 3.
More than 20 years after its premiere, Flaherty and Ahrens are reinventing 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").
The limited engagement will continue through June 24.
Joining the previously announced "American Idol" finalist Syesha Mercado as Ti Moune will be 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 upcoming 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 will also include 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 press notes. "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 www.papermill.org.
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