Pictured: Allison Jones. Photo by J. Robert Schraeder/Spinning Tree Theatre.
By Marissa Carter
ONCE ON THIS ISLAND tells the legend of Ti Moune, a “peasant” girl who falls in love with a boy from the other side of the island and asks for the gods’ help to win his love. They grant her request in their own way, sending her on a journey to find the life she’s always dreamed of.
The story in this one act musical is solid. It has everything you could want in a legend, including playful gods, star-crossed lovers and a somewhat moral ending. And the production is perfectly suited to the legend. By keeping things simple, the cast and crew at Spinning Tree Theatre have delivered a production that emphasizes the storytelling focus of the script without losing any important visual elements.There is no set to speak of, but the actors make use of a few simple props when needed to create different scenery. The open stage leaves plenty of room for the beautifully energetic choreography by Andrew Grayman-Parkhurst, and the costuming from Shannon Smith-Regnier provides just enough color and contrast to create an island feel.
This setup also gives the actors a chance to let their facial expressions and actions tell the story, which they do expertly, even while dancing and singing complicated harmonies. Allison Jones is delightful to watch as Ti Moune. She has a brilliant smile and an air of innocence that makes it easy to root for her to receive the happy ending she so wants.
As a lifelong fan of legends from around the world, I was excited to see the legend of Ti Moune come alive in such a way. Audience members of all ages should be prepared for an entertaining experience full of gorgeous music, impressive dancing, and emotional performances worthy of applause.
ONCE ON THIS ISLAND, presented by Spinning Tree Theatre and performed at Just Off Broadway Theatre, is playing through May 6, 2018. For more information, visit spinningtreetheatre.com.