The U.S. tour premiere of Once On This Island happened Tuesday night (Oct. 15) at Nashville’s TPAC. The story came to life on the Music City stage with the help of a very realistic stage design.
The story is a love story, eerily similar to Romeo and Juliet (or The Little Mermaid), with a peasant girl and a rich city boy (played by Tyler Hardwick) at the heart of it. The peasant girl, an orphan named Ti Moune (Courtnee Carter), is ready to fall in love even if that means risking her own life. In the Carribean tale, she rescues the rich boy and saves him from death — but the risk comes with a lofty price tag. Once On This Island comes to life on stage with sand, water, fire, catchy songs and mesmerizing dance numbers. The show’s seating chart makes it even more unique with audience members actually sitting on stage with the cast.
The play begins as soon as the doors open to the theater with actors already in character. They walk around the stage, going about their business following the devastation of a hurricane. It’s another interesting concept that gets the audience invested from the very beginning.
Although upbeat, beautiful songs tell the story through the storytellers, there’s a deeper, darker theme. It lies just behind the island music and hip-shaking dance numbers and comes to a climax during a party at the swanky hotel. Up until that point, there was primarily beauty, hope and happiness as the story evolved on the island. Following this moment, the darkness comes out, reminding us that not every fairy tale has a happy ending but if you love well enough, you and your story will live on.
If you’re looking for a captivating night out, head to TPAC through Oct. 20. The story will grab you the moment you enter Andrew Jackson Hall and it won’t let go until the cast take their final bows. Tickets are available here but there is also a $25 digital lottery. Details on the lottery are here.