Since early September, the sounds of music have been echoing through the auditorium at Everett High School.
It has been a semester of dedicated theatre students practicing, practicing and then practicing again for the musical, ‘Once on this Island,’ which they will premiere on Thursday, Nov. 21, and perform also on Friday and Saturday – each day starting at 6:30 p.m.
Everett High Theatre Company director, Evan DeMarzo, now in his sixth year of putting on productions, said this has been a very difficult production to prepare for because it is a full musical, with singing from beginning to end. That, he said, requires a different skill set than a typical play.
“It’s a Broadway musical and the first we’ve done in four years,” he said, noting they did ‘Wizard of Oz’ four years ago. “It’s been a long time coming and we worked very hard to get it going the right way. We started rehearsals in the first week of September, so we’ve been at it since the beginning of school. We knew this was a big undertaking so we put in a lot of work on it and starting rehearsal earlier than normal…It has been a great deal of student dedication to this show because it was since the early part of the school year and has been four days a week rehearsals.”
There are 22 students in the cast, and about 40 more in the crew – making a large group that DeMarzo said is a great mix of new freshmen and veteran upperclassmen performers.
One thing they did was face the fact that they needed singing and dancing talent, in addition to their regular performers. To widen the circle of those trying out, he said they reached out to the vocal ensemble, the choral ensemble and the various dance groups already established at Everett High.
“It’s a whole different ballgame with this production,” he said. “The last time we did a musical during my second year, it was ‘Wizard of Oz.’ That only has five solo songs and the rest if pretty much acting. This production is music from open to close so it was a learning curve to make sure we got the music down.”
The story is based on the novel, ‘My Love, My Love’ by Rosa Guy.
Running about 90 minutes, it is the sweeping, universal tale of Ti Moune, a fearless peasant girl in search of her place in the world, and ready to risk it all for love. Ti Moune is guided on a journey by the mighty, and temperamental Gods that rule the island. After a fated encounter with a rich Grand Homme from the other side of the island, Ti Moune sets out on a remarkable quest to reunite with the boy who has captured her heart. This beautiful tale is told through non-stop calypso-style music that will be sure to stick even after leaving the theater.
The principle roles in the musical are played by:
•Jhalyshka Feliciano in the leading role of Ti Moune (a peasant orphan sent on a journey by the Gods of the island who will test the power of Love vs the forces of Death).
•Daicia Eugene in the role of Asaka: Goddess of the Earth (helps guide Ti Moune’s journey across the Island).
•Darren Pierre in the role of Agwe: God of Water (creates the initial fated meeting of Ti Moune and Daniel Bouxhomme).
•Vanessa Pineda in the role of Erzulie: Goddess of Love (provides Ti Moune with the strength of love to overcome her fears).
•Marck- Hens Jules in the role of Papa Ge: Demon of Death (challenges Ti Moune’s choices between Death and Love).
•Anthony Villatoro in the role of Daniel Bouxhomme (a rich Grand Homme who falls in love with Ti Moune).