Once on This Island – Review by Bonnie Goldberg

Do you enjoy folklore, the traditional customs, tales, art forms, preserved by a people? How about a story of a great storm and an infant girl who is rescued by a childless couple who name her Ti Moune and raise her to adulthood? If this tale tickles your fancy and imagination, then the Summer Theatre of New Canaan has a wonderful Technicolor experience for you and your family. A Caribbean island setting, created by William P. Mensching Jr, with colorful costumes by Arthur Oliver, is ready to welcome you under the stars in New Canaan until Sunday, July 31 for the luscious musical “Once on This Island” with book and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and music by Stephen Flaherty.

You will surely be captivated by the tale of Ti Moune, a luminous Zurin Villanueva, a peasant girl who lives on one side of the island, the poor side, while the rich folk inhabit the other. Ti Moune’s world is ruled by a quartet of gods, Asaka (Brandi Chavonne Massey), Mother of the Earth, Agwe (Shafiq Hicks) god of Water, Erzulie (Tiffany Renee Thompson) goddess of Love and Papa Ge (Ramsey Pack) the demon of Death. The gods enjoy playing with and interfering with the lives of those who dwell nearby.

When Agwe unleashes a fierce storm, the little orphan Ti Moune is saved by the peasants Mama Euralie (Zoie Morris) and Tonton Julian (C. Mingo Long). Years later when Ti Moune prays to the gods to learn her purpose in life, the gods laugh and send her to rescue a rich young man in a car accident. Her Daniel (Xavier McKinnon) becomes Ti Moune’s purpose: to nurse him back to health and to love him. When the demon of Death comes to claim him, she offers herself in exchange to save his life.

Hoping to marry Daniel, Ti Moune discovers there are at least two giant obstacles to her plan. Daniel’s father (Derrick Alton) and Andrea (Joy Del Valle) who has been promised to Daniel from her birth. For generations, this story of love and redemption is told and retold and now you are invited to experience it yourself. George Falson directs and choreographs this legendary romance, with musical direction by Damien Sneed.

For tickets (VIP ($74) with chair provided; Reserved ($64, senior $59) bring your own chair or blanket; General ($54, senior $49) behind Reserved, bring own chair or blanket; call STONC at 203-966-4634 or online at ciovationtix.com or email BoxOffice@stonc.org. Performances are Thursday to Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 7:30 p.m. For children “The Wizard of Oz” will be performed until July 31 at 10 a.m. Friday to Sunday. Picnics, birthday parties and Munchkins are welcome.

Be swept up in this tale of the Caribbean and of this brave peasant girl who risks offending the gods by giving her love and life to save another.