Georgia Ensemble Theatre’s Once on This Island Review
AHHHH I’m so happy I get to talk about this show! Once on This Island is one of the most underrated and beautiful shows. It’s bizarre and mystical. It’s incredible and I love it so much! I’m just going to jump into what this show is.
The synopsis of this show is the story of a simple island girl who turns into a beautiful young woman searching for her capacity to love. That’s the basic synopsis of it, but it’s so much more. A lot of the productions are described as The Lion King meets the Little Mermaid. Which it is! It brings the energy of The Lion King to the Caribbean flare of “Under the Sea”. It tells the beautiful story of Ti Moune, told by villagers trying to calm down a young girl during a storm.
Ti Moune is a naïve young character, like Ariel. She is the embodiment of purity and love in this 90-minute one act show, we watch her grow. We watch her love, get her heartbroken, and do everything in her power to get that love back. The people that help tell our story bring about a sense of community.
The type of community you’d expect from shows like “In the Heights”. The story is told by villagers who tell a young girl, “The Story of Ti Moune”. A little orphan saved by the Gods to go on a journey no one expected. The show also features Four larger than life characters, the Gods. Agwe, the God of Water, Erzuile, the Goddess of Love, Asaka, Mother Earth, and Papa Ge, Sly Demon of Death.
GET’s award-winning director and choreographer, Ricardo Aponte brilliantly staged this show. Ricardo choreographed and directed this show and it’s perfect! Ms. S. Renee Clark put her foot in these vocals though! The cut offs are CLEAN, the dynamics are perfect, it’s an experience. Cause they’re incredible! Now let’s get into this breakdown!
Marcus Hopkins Turner as Armand/Ensemble: Y’all can we just talk about this voice! This is legit the first time I’ve ever seen Bass on stage killing it! He’s proof why there should be more bass leads in shows cause his voice is KILLER.
Myshay Pretty as young girl/ little Ti Moune: Can we talk about how talented this young lady is for a second? She’s on even when the focus of the scene is not on her and that’s a valuable lesson most professionals haven’t learned. I think we’ll be seeing more of her in theatre.
Adrianna Jackson as Andrea: Mama provided pipes because Andrea was just out here singing! She was great and she gave all the shade just like Andrea should. Mother’s side eye game is deadly!
Robert John Connor as Ton Ton Julian: I love his approach of this character. He made it real for me and he honestly reminded me of my grandfather. It seemed like the words were really his and there wasn’t any Robert but just Ton Ton.
Terry Henry as Mama Euralie: She really belongs in this universe to me. I loved her performance! She also gave classic African American diva vocals. She gave Stephanie Mills/ Lillias White level vocals I loved every minute of it!
Mahalia Jackson as Asaka: AHHHHHHH. That’s all I have to say. Mama should’ve provided more edges and shoes because by the end of “Pray” and “Mama will Provide” I had thrown my shoes and my edges were snatched. She has ALL the notes! Mother was giving vocals the whole show!!! she gave soprano, all the notes, she gave everything.
Adrianna Trachell as Erzuile: She brought power to this role that’s usually played softly. She brought power to this role and along with that came the beauty of this character. I legit fell in love with her from the jump which is ironic cause Erzuile is the goddess of love. She brought it! I was in awe the entire time and her version of “The Human Heart” took me out. Her voice was soft and strong and just magical. It’s a lot to describe so I’ll just say wow.
Brian Walker as Papa Ge: The physicality!!!!!!! My God. Somebody cast this man as Simba immediately. The jumps were as high as they could be, the lunges as deep as they can be. Everything was 0-100 real quick. He embodied this role completely as an audience member I appreciate his commitment.
Benjamin Walker as Agwe: His version of “Rain” had me under my seat! I was not prepared for the voice. I’d already been following him on Instagram for a while so I was so ready to see him in this role and he did not disappoint. You could hear every bit of voice training he has and it’s dumb. This man is dumb talented and I’m convinced he can do anything. He sings opera, gospel, and musical theatre! Now those are some goals right there!!
Christian Magby as Daniel: It’s always great to see Magby in a show. You forget how talented someone is when you’re so used to seeing them all the time. On top of being a dope composer and writer, one of the best performers I’ve ever seen. It’s just so cool to be able to see someone so talented take time out to take me under his wing and help me come up. This role fits his mold, he’s the official love interest of Atlanta theatre and he plays it well.
India Tyree as Ti Moune: I just want to start off saying I love India so much! India is amazing and one of the sweetest people you’ll get to meet. She was one of the counselors this year at Camp Broadway and she’s just incredible. She’s incredibly talented and that matched with her personality is the key to success. She murders this role like she does everything else and I can’t wait to see her in more.
Once on This Island runs until October 1, and you can check out the rest of their season at http://get.org/