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Review: Once On This Island

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The cast of One On This Island perform the musical's closing number,

The cast of One On This Island perform the musical's closing number, "Why We Tell the Story." (Photo courtesy of Ashley Belanger.)

The cast of One On This Island perform the musical's closing number, "Why We Tell the Story." (Photo courtesy of Ashley Belanger.)

Alexis Cameron, Staff Writer

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The Clayton High School Players produced the musical Once On This Island on April 21, 22, and 23. I saw it on Thursday and Friday nights. The amazing dance numbers and songs were unparalleled to anything I’ve ever seen.

Once on This Island is about a peasant girl named Ti Moune (Juliana Gorena) who saves the life of a wealthy man named Daniel Beauxhomme (Nicholas Kraft). With the help of the gods Agwe (Devyn Ersery), Asaka (Alyssa Durham), and Erzulie (Emily Spain), Ti Moune finds her way to the Hotel Beauxhomme to heal Daniel, and they fall in love. However, she is forced to choose between her life and Daniel’s, by the god of death Papa Ge (Katie Distefano).

Gorena and Kraft lead the ensemble with their vocals and choreography. Kraft’s voice carried through the whole theater, and even those sitting in the back were able to hear his voice. Ensemble members such as Divinity Brazell and Keitland Carter gave exceptional performances, and their dance skills shone during the musical numbers. Ragan Keefer (Mama Euralie) did an excellent job of portraying Ti Moune’s mother, and during “A Part of Us” she conveyed her emotion well and touched everyone in the audience.

The set was minimalistic, composed of a platform and the backdrop behind it. The backdrop was comprised of flats printed different colors to represent the gods and a tree painted across them. The set was not detailed, because the production was more focused on the storytelling.

The costumes represented the roles of the people in the society. Ti Moune wore yellow throughout the production to show how she did not fit in with the peasants or the wealthy people. The distinction between the rich and the poor was very evident. The grandes hommes were dressed in white to represent their affluence. During “Mama Will Provide” the aspects of nature were covered in ponchos corresponding to their plant or animal. For example, the trees wore green and brown colored ponchos, and the birds wore pink ponchos. They also made sounds corresponding with their element of nature.

Costumes aided in depicting the setting as well. During “Rain” the ensemble was dressed in blue tulle and belts that made noise similar to rain. There was a minimalistic amount of makeup on the cast besides the gods, whose makeup represented their personalities. Throughout the show, the music adjusted to the mood. If there was an intense scene, the piano keys were lower, and the drums beat harder. The lights were conducive in conveying a scene also. For example, when Papa Ge, god of death, appears, the set is darkened with a deep crimson. The sound effects were a nice touch during the scene when Julian was slapped by a guard.

The god of death, Papa Ge (Katie Distefano), prepares to take Ti Moune's (Juliana Gorena) life while Erzulie (Emily Spain), goddess of love, weeps. (Photo courtesy of Ashley Belanger.)

The god of death, Papa Ge (Katie Distefano), prepares to take Ti Moune’s (Juliana Gorena) life while Erzulie (Emily Spain), goddess of love, weeps. (Photo courtesy of Ashley Belanger.)

The Clayton High School Players intended to teach the audience that they should not judge others based on their social status in society, and that love always prevails in the end. Once On This Island achieves the goal of touching the audience and making them think about the injustices and the oppression of the less fortunate. The musical also shows the audience that even a peasant can make a great change in the world. Ti Moune is the prime example of someone who never gives up and changes the world around her, even if she isn’t able to be there to see it. It was an enjoyable production because of the little things that tied together the exceptional singing and choreography of the cast.

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Review: Once On This Island