‘Once On This Island’ to reveal the power of true love
True love can defy all obstacles — that’s the message of an upcoming musical production put on by entertainment group Troika.
‘Once On This Island’, a Caribbean adaptation of the popular fairy tale ‘The Little Mermaid’, will show for three nights starting on August 23.
Shana Parker will play Ti Moune, a black peasant girl who rescues and falls in love with Daniel, a wealthy boy from the other side of her island, played by Dion Ming.
Both young thespians said the musical forced them to grow in new ways. Ms Parker, 19, said this was her biggest acting role to date.
She said: “It’s the first lead I have ever played and as far as acting I have never played a part that made me so feel so uncomfortable in moments.
“That’s when you know you are working towards something that’s very honest. I feel like the part is asking something of me that I have never had to use before in a show, ever.”
Ms Parker has been acting since 2008; she has appeared in ‘Little Shop of Horrors’, ‘MacBeth’ and ‘Hairspray’ at Warwick Academy. The teenager is going on to study theatre performance at Kean University in New Jersey next month.
Mr Ming, 30, has been acting since he was 16. His first serious role was in Gilbert and Sullivan’s production of ‘Les Miserables’.
He said every role had its challenges, but this part forced him to remove himself from the equation and focus on staying true to the character. “With this production what I found hard was the fact that my love interest is much younger than me.
“She is 19 years old, so the age difference there has been a little challenging just because that could be my little sister, but I have to put that aside because I am acting at the end of the day.”
He said he always wanted to work with Troika “because it’s a charity [that focuses on] empowering the young people of today to pursue their dreams”.
“I wanted to help out in some capacity and give back to the community at the same time,” he explained.
“I also wanted to share the knowledge I have in terms of theatre because I have been schooled in acting [at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York] and I figured that would help encourage the kids pursue their dreams even further. “
The play is Troika’s first attempt at a musical and includes almost non-stop song and dance. Live music will also be on offer from a four-person, local band.
American director Steve Huntsman has been working extensively with the budding actors, age 11 to 31, to get them in tip top shape for the play’s opening.
“We have been working really hard and rehearsing five or six days a week. We are building this production from the ground up and this is unlike any other musical because it’s almost a story within a story,” he explained.
The play starts on a stormy night as villagers get together to tell a young child the story of Ti Moune and Daniel; throughout the performance you also see parts of the story unfolding between the two lovers.
Mr Huntsman said the best part of directing the project was seeing the growth in the young actors.
“Seeing people grow is great. They start off at one level of understanding and they are trying new things, we are teaching them how to take risks and not be afraid to take chances.
“The thing about live theatre is you are watching people interact with each other honestly under imaginary circumstances, so helping the kids understand what it’s like to make a choice in the moment and discover that choice for the very first time in a scripted scenery [is great].”
He hopes that audiences walk away with a strong sense of community. He said: “I think we have a lot of issues going on in the world today, not that this is anything new, but we deal with these things differently than 20 years ago.
“I hope the audience walks away with the feeling it’s okay to communicate, talk to each other, empathise and help each other. When you see someone suffering, reach out and see how you can help them.”
Co-founder Shoa Bean said it was important for residents to come out in support of local talent. She said: “This production promises to be to give you professionalism and show off the high quality of talent here in Bermuda.
“It has been guided by the expertise of Steve Huntsman who has been an asset to us with his wide range of knowledge when it comes to musicals, so to be able to come and witness that will definitely be something you don’t want to miss.”
‘Once On This Island’ will run from August 23 until August 25 at The Ruth Seaton James Centre for the Performing Arts.
Tickets are $25 for students, $30 for adults in advance and $40 at the door. Patron tickets, $50 to $250, are available through ptix.bm or Ptix locations at Liberty Theatre, the Freisenbruch-Meyer building on Front Street, Hamilton and the Clocktower Mall in Dockyard.
Shows start at 8pm.
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