Lea Salonga (Miss Saigon), Alex Newell (Glee), Merle Dandridge (Greenleaf), and Quentin Earl Darrington (Cats) have joined the cast of the Broadway revival of Lynn Ahrens’ and Stephen Flaherty’s Once on This Island, producers have announced. The production will begin Broadway previews November 9 in advance of a December 3 opening night at the Circle in the Square Theatre.
Dandridge will play Papa Ge, Darrington will play Agwe, Newell will play Asaka, and Salonga will play Erzulie.
“In casting the Gods that inhabit our island, it became imperative for me to break expectations and stretch beyond the bounds in which Gods are traditionally represented. It felt important that young people watching our production see themselves reflected back from the stage at them,” commented director Michael Arden in a press statement. “The Gods are simply that: Gods. They are not bound by gender, race, sexuality or being human at all. I'm so very pleased to be collaborating with these four artists exploring the important and timely themes of this musical through their unique and incredible abilities.”
The actors join the previously announced cast members: Tony nominee Phillip Boykin (most recently on Broadway in Sunday in the Park with George) as Tonton Julian, Alysha Deslorieux (Hamilton's current Peggy Schuyler and Maria Reynolds) as Andrea, Kenita R. Miller (The Color Purple) as Mama Euralie, and Isaac Powell in his Broadway debut as Daniel.
Further casting, including the central role of Ti Moune, will be announced at a later date.
The musical, which was first produced on Broadway in 1990, follows peasant girl Ti Moune and her star-crossed romance with a young man from the wealthy side of her island, a world ruled by four island gods.
The new production will be directed by Tony nominee Arden and choreographed by Camille A. Brown. Orchestrator Michael Starobin and vocal arranger AnnMarie Milazzo have created new arrangements with non-traditional instruments and found objects for this new take on the story.
The company will also feature Darlesia Cearcy, Rodrick Covington, Cassondra James, David Jennings, Grasan Kingsberry, Tyler Hardwick, Loren Lott, T. Oliver Reid, and Aurelia Williams.
Once on This Island will be produced on Broadway by Ken Davenport, Hunter Arnold, Carl Daikeler, Richard Hopper and WitzEnd Productions. Kayla Greenspan and Valerie Novakoff are associate producers.