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Wayland Students Perform 'Once On This Island' at Watertown's Arsenal Center

The Tony-nominated musical brings Caribbean flavor to the stage in this family-friendly show.

Happy Hollow students Samantha Janoff and Anna Lin are performing in the MetroWest Family Theater's production of "Once On This Island."

The show opened on Thursday, June 21 in the Arsenal Center’s Charles Mosesian Theater and will run until Saturday evening. Janoff portrays Little Ti Moune and Lin is a member of the youth ensemble.

This Tony-nominated musical combines elements of "Romeo and Juliet" and "The Little Mermaid." Set in the Caribbean, it tells the story of Ti Moune, a peasant girl who falls in love with Daniel, a wealthy boy from the "other side" of the island. 

The MetroWest Family Theater's production is directed by Samantha Bower, with choreography by Carla Gerken and music direction by Chris Roppola.

"I love that this show attacks the themes of social class and race," says Bower. "Ti Moune is forbidden from marrying Daniel because they do not have the same color skin nor do they belong to the same social class. Ti Moune is the one character who sees beyond these differences and blatantly ignores them…. She does not define people by how much money they have or their skin color. By the end of the story, the message is clear to the other characters and they are able to live in harmony with each other. I find this both exciting and relevant to our world today."

The musical will be performed by the MetroWest Family Theater. Founded in 2000, this Sudbury-based nonprofit group aims to bring quality Broadway musicals to the community at large. Its production of "Once On This Island" features a cast of over 25 adults, teenagers and children, as well as a full orchestra.

"One of the most challenging elements in directing this show was also one of the most fun," Bower says. "Every actor portrays multiple characters including peasants, gossipers, storytellers, etc.  This needs to be portrayed seamlessly and without costume changes in order to maintain the flow of the show. It is so important for both the actor and the audience to understand the difference in each character, and this requires a great deal of imagination from the audience and character development from the actor."

The musical garnered eight Tony nominations during its Broadway run in 1990 and 1991, including Best Musical, Book, and Score. Bower says the show should appeal to theatre-goers of all ages.

"Young children will be entertained with the vibrant colors and costumes, the high energy choreography, a cast filled with children and adults, and the delightful score," she says. "Adults will appreciate the beautiful story, rich vocal harmonies, and our very talented cast. Everyone will love the show's inherent 'story telling' tone."

Performances of "Once On This Island" run June 21, 22, and 23 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, June 23 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $16 for general admission, $20 for premium seating (first five rows, center guaranteed), and $20 at the door. 

To order tickets, call 508-450-7847 or click here. For more information, visit the Arsenal Center’s website

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