Mamma will provide" a two-performance concert reunion of cast members of Once On This Island, including LaChanze, for a benefit to support Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS May 12 at the Winter Garden Theatre.
The 1990 Stephen Flaherty-Lynn Ahrens Broadway musical, a Caribbean-set fairy-tale musical inspired by "The Little Mermaid," will play a one-night only gala concert. LaChanze first captured Broadway's attention as Ti Moune, the plucky but poor heroine of Once On This Island who willingly battles the gods and prejudices of class and race for Daniel, the wealthy man she loves. Since then, she sang "Another Hundred People" in the Roundabout revival of Company and appeared in Ragtime and The Vagina Monologues.
Jerry Dixon of tick, tick...BOOM! and Five Guys Named Moe played Daniel in the original cast and reprises the role for the performances, set for 3 and 8 PM May 12. Also in the cast are Andrea Frierson-Toney, Sheila Gibbs, Kecia Lewis, Afi McClendon, Gerry McIntyre, Milton Craig Nealey, Nikki Rene, Eric Riley and Ellis E. Williams.
Lillias White, not in the original cast (she stepped into the show later), will play Asaka, the earth goddess. The actress is becoming a reunion concert regular — she also played Effie to much acclaim for the Actors Fund's recent Dreamgirls concert and will sing in the upcoming BC/EFA benefit, Nothing Like a Dame 2002. White won a Tony for The Life, and did later essay Asaka on Broadway and recorded the Ahrens-Flaherty song, "Come Down From the Tree," cut from the show, for the "Lost in Boston" CD series. A cast album of the intermissionless Once On This Island score exists. The original music director Steve Marzulo will conduct the original orchestrations by Michael Starobin.
Once on This Island opened October 18, 1990 at the Booth Theatre and ran there for 469 performances. Graciela Daniele directed and choreographed the musical, which garnered eight Tony nominations and was Ahrens and Flaherty's first score on Broadway. They also penned Off-Broadway's Lucky Stiff and Broadway's Ragtime, Seussical and My Favorite Year. Songs from the show include "Rain," "Mamma Will Provide," "Waiting for Life," "The Sad Tale of the Beauxhommes," "One Small Girl," "Human Heart" and "Forever Yours." The show is based on Rosa Guy's novel, "My Love, My Love," which is loosely linked to Hans Christian Andersen's "Little Mermaid" tale. Once On This Island at Off-Broadway's Playwrights Horizons. Tickets range $50-$1000. For reservations, call (212) 840-0770. For information on Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, visit http://www.broadwaycares.org.
In memory of Calvin Gooding, LaChanze husband, who perished in the World Trade Center attacks, a portion of the concerts' proceeds will go to The Cantor Fitzgerald Relief Fund.
— By Christine Ehren
and Kenneth Jones