by Lauren Means | photos courtesy Joan Marcus
There was scattered controlled chaos in the theater Tuesday night for the opening of “Once on This Island”. Chattering, cell phones, music… but as soon as the lights went dark the show was on. This stop in Nashville marks the official opening of the North American Revival tour of “Once on This Island” with an almost week-long stay at Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC).
While the younger crowd might be reminded of Moana and us more mature audience members might ponder, “Is this like The Little Mermaid?”, we can all agree this is a story told over and over in literary history. The story of life and death, love and loss, gods and demons.
After a brief introduction into the plot, we are catapulted right into the story of Ti Moune (Courtnee Carter), who by the graces of gods, is saved after a massive flood wipes out her village. She is taken in by Mama Euralie (Danielle Lee Greaves) and Tonton Julian (Phillip Boykin) who raise her as if she was their own. She is warned of the class differences in her community and how she will always be seen as a peasant girl to the grande hommes that live guarded behind a gate. As she grows older, she tries to find her purpose in life as she is always told she was saved as a child for a reason.
TI Moune thinks she found her reason for living and the audience is taken on an emotional ride fit for Shakespeare. Ending as dramatically as it began, we are not given a tidy story that fits in a box wrapped with a bow. We are given a realistic tale that mirrors everyday life for many.
The cast of “Once on This Island” was amazing. From their performance to the vocals, and how they are able to act as a conduit for the audience to feel what Rosa Guy was conveying in the 1985 novel My Love, My Love; or, The Peasant Girl, which is the basis for the production. Carter has strong vocals with the ability to make the audience feel what she is feeling. The visual effects are remarkable and even clever storytelling tools.
Heavy in social topics, this is a wonderful tool to illustrate the barrier between social classes, genders, races, and other “boxes” we are put into. It is important for everyone to understand just how devastating these barriers and walls can be… not just for one person but for a whole society.
You can catch “Once on This Island” through October 20th at TPAC in Nashville.
Know Before You Go
What: Once on This Island
When: October 15-20, 2019
Where: TPAC’s Andrew Jackson Hall
Who: Recommended for Ages 5 and up
How: For more information and tickets visit https://www.tpac.org/event/2019-10-15-to-2019-10-20-once-on-this-island/
‘Once on This Island’ Digital Lottery through TPAC Concierge App: Full details on the $25 Digital lottery can be found here. The lottery will run all week for all performances.