Spring musical Once Upon This Island is a visual feast


Colorful costumes ruled this spring musical with its vibrant palette.

Jill Grinnell

Junior Eric McHenry controlled fates and determined the destinies of two love-struck mortals as he took on the character of the powerful god of water in PA’s recent production of Once Upon This Island.

The musical tells the love story of two teenagers, Ti Moune (sophomore Shreya Nagabhirava) and Daniel Beauxhomme (junior Sam Peterson), who are forbidden to be together because of the status of their families. Ti Moune comes from the poor side of the island, and Daniel is from the rich side.

“Learning to play Daniel was interesting,” said Peterson. “He definitely isn’t all that good of a guy.” Chorus teacher and director David Prescott asked Peterson if Daniel should be loved or hated, and Peterson said, “It would be nearly impossible to have the audience thinking Daniel had any good intentions.”

Daniel decides to marry Andrea (senior Abby Carlson) instead of staying with Ti Moune, but “the fact that Ti Moune didn’t end up with Daniel added more emotion to the plot,” said Peterson.

“Ti Moune was a simple character,” said Nagabhirava. “She changed a lot throughout the story, and showing this change was very important to me.”

Ti Moune is innocent and naive at the beginning of the musical, but the heartbreak she experiences changes her emotions and alters her character.

“I had to learn how to express the emotions she felt so the audience could understand how she felt,” said Nagabhirava.

Commanding the stage was sophomore Ekene Osuchukwu who played Asaka, the earth mother. She was barely recognizable with a headdress, heavy makeup, and a bright green costume. “For a show that started at 7,” said Osuchukwu, “the rest of the cast had to be at school at 5. I had to be there at 4 o’clock. It took 20 minutes just to get my headdress on.”

The four gods and goddesses impacted the events of the story as they predetermined the fate of Ti Moune and Daniel with their powers.

“The costumes of the gods were all designed to fit their respective powers,” said McHenry, who played Agwé, the god of water. Each of the gods wore a different color to resemble different aspects of life and nature.

“I wore blue to symbolize the sea with its chaos and mayhem,” said McHenry. The change of color of lighting on the stage also portrayed the change in emotions within the characters.

It seemed that Ti Moune and Daniel were destined to be together because they were so close to having a happy ending, but then they were drawn apart. The musical was not very predictable, which made it “so different from traditional musicals,” said Peterson.