Broadway at TPAC presents:
Once on This Island (Oct. 15 – 20; Ages 8 & older)
TPAC's Jackson Hall
505 Deaderick St., Nashville
615-782-4040 | tpac.org
Remaining showtimes: Fri 8 p.m., Sat 2 & 8 p.m., Sun 1 & 6:30 p.m.
Tickets: $45 – $90
The second installment of TPAC's 2019-2020 Broadway Series is the ravishing production of Once on This Island, and Nashville is the first-stop on the national tour!
The 90-minute, one-act musical is based on Rosa Guy's 1985 book My Love, My Love; or, The Peasant Girl. Set in the French Antilles islands, the theme centers on a peasant girl who uses the power of love to bring together people of differing social classes.
With a book and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and music by Stephen Flaherty, the musical landed on Broadway in 1990; the 2017 revival earned a Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical.
When a storm arises causing a young girl (Mimi Crossland) to cry in fear, village storytelliers share the story of Ti Moune (Courtnee Carter), the peasant girl who falls in love with Daniel Beauxhomme (Tyler Hardwick), the upper class "grand homme" who lives on the luxurious opposite side of the island.
On Ti Moune's lower-class "black-skinned" side of the island, the peasants worship four gods: Asaka (Kyle Ramar Freeman), "Mother of the Earth"; Agwe (Jahmaul Bakare), "God of Water"; Erzulie (Cassondra James), "Goddess of Love"; and Pape Ge (the dynamic Tamyra Gray), the bad-ass "Demon of Death." Ti Moune prays to the gods to reveal her purpose, and she wants to be like the fast-driving people on the roads near her village. Amused, the gods deliberate. Erzulie wants to give her the strongest element of all, love. But Papa Ge throws down a bet to see what is stronger, love or death.
After Agwe arranges for Daniel's car to crash. the drama ensues as Ti Moune helps the elite young man to recover despite the objections of her parents and community. As the story unfolds, Ti Moune falls in love with Daniel despite the societal differences dictating they should not be together. Ultimately, Ti Moune's purpose as fearless woman reveals itself as being one who tears down the walls constructed by those with privilege.
The show features spectacular set design by Dane Lafftery, complete with sand across the stage. In addition, Clint Ramos' vibrant costumes and fantastic lighting design by Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer help create an eye-popping, colorful visual landscape.
Camille A. Brown's choreography is fantastic throughout the production, mostly evident in "Ti Moune's Dance," a crowd-pleasing, show-stopping number that proves to be a significant part of the storyline. Backed by a tight, five-piece band performing the calypso-flavored sounds of the Caribbean, the entire cast delivers some of the strongest vocal performances in stage history. Carter in particular possesses dynamic vocal prowess that's exquisite to experience, and Hardwick's performance of "Some Girls" is particularly heartfelt.
Although the show doesn't wrap up with the happiest of endings, as the gods would have it, life springs from death in a most unusual way.