KJH Stage
‘Island’ explores love, death, race

once on this island

Alexa Murray

A. Murray

From antiquity, great authors have questioned whether love can overcome social circumstance. A Caribbean-style musical, Once On This Island explores this theme along with the power of hope, death, and faith.

Kings Junior High has begun rehearsals for its production of Once On This Island, a musical based on a novel by Rosa Guy. Incorporating elements of Romeo and Juliet as well as The Little Mermaid, the show relates the story of Ti Moune and Daniel Beauxhomme who, according to the KJH musical director Scott Hayward, are “two star-crossed lovers who weren’t really supposed to meet but by chance they did.”

Ti Moune is an orphaned peasant girl living on an island, the “Jewel of the [French] Antilles.” When Papa Ge, the god of death, makes a bet with Erzulie, the goddess of love, to prove that death is stronger than love, they bring together the two teens separated by economic status and color. Grief ensues, but ultimately the legacy of their love brings community on the island together. 

With this production, the cast faces rather unique storytelling challenges–the narrative structure depicts village storytellers who tell Ti Moune’s story to a young girl in order to comfort her during a storm.

As Hayward explains, this means “we have to combine the aspects of ‘we’re telling a story’, but not necessarily actually playing the characters.”

Student director Grant Abbott explains that another challenge is the ensemble singing. For most of the songs, everyone has a part, which makes clean cut difficult.

These challenges have not deterred the students, however.

“They love it. The junior high students are loving the overall energy and felling of the show,” Hayward explains. “They also seem to enjoy the storytelling side of things.”

Abbott’s favorite part of the production is its conclusion.

“The ending isn’t necessarily happy. It’s not kiddy. . . or show-boaty. It’s real.”

Show times are 7 p.m., Jan. 29-31 in the KHS Auditorium.

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