Ahmanson Theatre presents the Winner of the 2018 Tony Award for Best Musical Revival, Once on This Island, A captivating and enchanting story of life, pain, love, grief, faith, and hope. Once on This Island is a magical journey brought to you from the French Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean Sea, where poor peasants beseech the boundless Gods of the island, where the thunder booms overhead and the population quake in fear of deadly floods. Come and listen to the story of Ti Moune, a fearless orphan girl found in a tree above the flood waters and her search for true love…
“What a delight it is to enter the world of ONCE ON THIS ISLAND!” raves The New York Times.
“A BEWITCHING MUSICAL that CELEBRATES LOVE, RESILIENCE AND THE SPIRIT OF HOPE.” – Joe Dziemianowicz, Daily News.
“IMAGINATIVE AND DYNAMIC! YOU’LL FEEL ONCE IS NOT ENOUGH.” – Adam Feldman, TimeOut.
“GLORIOUS AND TIMELY! A JOYFUL NOISE THUNDERS THROUGH THE THEATER!” – Jeremy Gerard, Deadline.
“AN UTTERLY DELIGHTFUL BURST OF CARIBBEAN SUNSHINE!” – Mark Shenton, The Stage.
Our story starts with the boom of thunder and the cries of a small child, Ti Moune, our fearless heroine is found in a tree above the flood waters and is adopted by the peasants Mama Euralie and Tonton Julian. As Ti Moune grows into a young woman she prays to the gods to give her purpose and to become like one the fast driving Grands Hommes. The Gods, Asaka: Mother of the Earth, Agwé: god of Water, Erzulie: goddess of Love, and Papa Ge: demon of Death, laugh at the foolish wishes of the girl and Papa Ge devises a bet to prove which is stronger, Love or Death.
Agwe causes the car of Daniel Beauxhomme, one of these Grands Hommes, to crash near Ti Moune’s village and bringing the two together. Despite the objections of the other villagers Ti Moune brings Daniel into the village to tend to his wounds and naturally falls in love with the unconscious boy, and when Papa Ge comes for Daniels life, she offers her own instead!
Daniel’s people come from across the island and take him back with them after recounting the sad tale of their family, Ti Moune is heartbroken to be separated from Daniel and decides to cross the island on her own to be with her love, the goddess Asaka tells Ti Moune not to fear, as the Earth will give her everything she needs on her journey to Daniel. When she arrives at his bedside, he does not remember her! But then he believes her after she tells him of the scar on his chest and Erzulie gives them the gift of love, rejoice for young sweet love!
At a Ball held at the Hotel on the island, Ti Moune learns that Daniel is already engaged to be married, and Ti Moune collapses in despair just as Papa Ge appears to her and reminds her of their bargain, her life for Daniels, but he offers an alternative, giving her a knife he tells her she can revoke the deal if she kills Daniel! Ti Moune enters Daniels room that night with the knife but is unable to go through with killing him, proving love is stronger than death! Alas Daniel awakes and sees Ti Moune standing over him with the knife!
So, Love is stronger than Death, what will happen now to our plucky heroine Ti Moune? Will Daniel go ahead with his arranged marriage? All this and more at the Ahmanson Theatre, come and buy your tickets and find out!
The Gods of the Island are:
Erzulie: Traditionally the spirit of love, beauty, jewelry, dancing, luxury and flowers. She is deeply compassionate and her symbol is the heart. As the embodiment of femininity, she is a defender of women and children, and is frequently depicted protectively holding a young child.
Asaka: The loa or God of harvest and the patron of agriculture, she is also called Azaka. Up in the Haitian mountains, the farmers frequently pray to Asaka for good harvest. She guides our heroine Ti Moune on her journey, and shows her how the land itself can help.
Papa Ge: Based on Papa Ghede, from the loa family of death. He is sinister and seductive, Papa Ghede is commonly believed to be the corpse of the very first man who died. He stands at the crossroads between the living and the dead, eagerly waiting to carry souls into the afterlife.
Agwe: The loa of direction, specifically across the oceans. He is often depicted as dashing and handsome, Agwe controls the currents, waves and ocean depths. Sometimes dressed as a naval officer, he guides all sea travelers’ home.
Winner of the 2018 Tony Award for Best Musical Revival, Once on This Island, the original Broadway production ran from 1990 to 1991, winning a Theatre World Award. The West End production opened in 1994, where it won the 1995 Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Musical. The musical was revived on Broadway in December 2017 and won a Drama Desk Award in 2018 as well as the 2018 Tony Award. This production tour of North America started in October 2019 and is the groundbreaking vision of two-time Tony Award-nominated director Michael Arden, and acclaimed choreographer Camille A. Brown, with a score that erupts with life from Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, the Tony Award-winning songwriters of Anastasia and Ragtime.
Once on This Island Reviews
“The Caribbean music of Once On This Island is so exuberant and beautifully performed that it is only at the end you realize what a tragic tale has been told to you, with the overarching message that nothing is bigger than death. Death cannot be defied; it cannot be made better by love. When death comes for you, that is it. So, director Michael Arden, choreographer Camille A. Brown, and music supervisor Chris Fenwick have quite the job sugaring such a bitter pill in this 90-minute musical. They are obviously helped by Lynn Ahrens’ book and lyrics and Stephen Flaherty’s music—which major on the love and idealism of lead character Ti Moune, as she battles the elements and gods to achieve love with Daniel Beauxhomme on an island in the French Antilles.
For most of the musical, you are utterly enveloped and enchanted. The audience watches the performers in the round, and so Dane Laffrey’s wonderful design really does feel like an island, with its floor of sand, pool of water, upturned boats, and simple corrugated gates, which effectively act as barriers to Ti Moune and Daniel. Chandeliers descend and a carpet materializes when she goes to the city to find him. There is even a live goat, who amazingly does not freak out with all the music. If the music is wonderful—truly, every song—and the direction brimming with life and originality, what jars in Once On This Island is the story. Race, racism and colonialism are examined in the musical but glancingly, and then there is—as in Miss Saigon—the simple and strange truth that the lead male character is a prize shit. He is not the man for Ti Moune; you don’t want them to end up together.”
– Tim Teeman, The Daily Beast
“JUST WHAT THE WORLD NEEDS NOW—INSPIRED AND UPLIFTING! LYNN AHRENS’ AND STEPHEN FLAHERTY’S LUSH AND LOVELY MUSICAL FABLE ABOUT THE ENDURING FORCE OF TRUE LOVE.” – Marilyn Stasio, Variety.
“EXHILARATING THEATER! IT’S IMPOSSIBLE TO RESIST! The dazzling ONCE ON THIS ISLAND will wash over you with the power of the ocean and the embrace of an island breeze—long may it live! The vibrant musical is back in a production that comes to life in a burst of creative energy and remarkably inventive artistry, courtesy of director Michael Arden.” – Roma Torre, NY1.
“A JOY-FILLED CARIBBEAN ESCAPE! IT PUTS THAT POST-VACATION SEA AIR SWING RIGHT BACK INTO YOUR STEP. YOU’LL ALMOST WISH YOU COULD KICK OFF YOUR SHOES AND GO DOWN TO JOIN THEM.” – Breanne L. Heldman, Entertainment.
“A CAPTIVATING AND ENCHANTING MUSICAL FAIRY TALE WITH A POWERFUL EMOTIONAL CHARGE!” – David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter.
“UNLIKE ANYTHING ELSE YOU’LL SEE ON BROADWAY! A WELCOME GETAWAY FULL OF LIFE AND JOY! A PLACE WHERE MAGIC IS POSSIBLE AND BEAUTY IS APPARENT FOR ALL TO SEE.” – Danny Groner, The Huffington Post.
“ABSOLUTELY INCANDESCENT! IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR SOME MUCH-NEEDED EMOTIONAL, AS WELL AS LITERAL WARMTH, GRAB A TICKET TO THIS EBULLIENT CHARMER.” – Charles Isherwood, Broadway News.
“BEAUTIFULLY SUNG AND STAGED, ONCE ON THIS ISLAND UTTERLY ENVELOPS AND ENCHANTS YOU.” – Tim Teeman, The Daily Beast.
“AN EXCITING, EMOTIONAL AND EXTRAORDINARY 90-MINUTE JOURNEY.” – Matt Windman, Am New York.