Once on This Island: A Broadway Must-See


Source: New York Times

Elena Naze, Contributor

Right after the Trump “shit hole country” scandal, I had the privileged of seeing Once on This Island. Taking place on an island that most assume is Haiti, although the show never confirms, Once on This Island tackles the racist history of Caribbean islands. With lyrics such as “they hate us for our blackness”, and an ethnically diverse and powerful cast, the show does a fantastic job of blending historic tales with modern day issues.

Once on This Island plays at the Circle in the Square Theatre, where the stage is a circle and the audience sits all around it. The staging for the show makes it even more immersive because when you walk in the actors are already there, walking around and acting like any islander would. There are chickens and goats that are walking around the stage and while you find your seat, laundry is hung up all around the theatre, making you feel like you’re apart of the story.  There’s even a river that the cast “fish” in before the show. If you’re really lucky, you could get a front row seat where you’re feet will be resting upon the sand beach that makes up the island.

After you get over how perfect the staging is, the story starts. The story centers around a young peasant girl, Ti Moune, played by Hailey Kilgore (her vocals alone are worth the ticket price) who falls in love with a light skinned boy named Daniel, played by Isaac Powell. In just 90 minutes the musical manages to rip your heart out, stomp on it, and then hand you an entirely new one just moments later. Once on This Island tackles colourism with the societal commentary of how the lighter skinned islanders look down on the darker skinned ones and treat them horribly. In addition to the gripping love story and racial themes, Gods are there to help narrate the story and guide Ti Moune to her destiny.

As all shows know, no matter how good the book is, there needs to be powerful actors to bring it to life. Once on This Island achieves just that. Every single member of the cast puts on a powerful performance. Shows like this are the reason there should be a Tony award for best ensemble because every vocal is powerful, full of emotion, and every one of them alone could carry a show.

Once on This Island is a Broadway must see with it’s heart-wrenching performances and social commentary on racial issues; and is a perfect show for the political and social environment of the world today.