Once On This Island Will Return To Broadway
While Broadway has been introduced to a new island this season, at the northeast tip of North America, a more familiar island will join Newfoundland next season with a revival of Aherns and Flaherty’s Once On This Island now officially announced.
Producers have announced the show will begin previews November 9th before officially opening December 3rd, 2017 at a theater to be announced. No official casting for the production has been announced at this time. However, producers did announce several additional members set to join director Michael Arden (Pictured Right) for the revival. Camille Brown is set to join the team as choreographer as well as Dane Laffrey as scenic designer. Ken Davenport and Hunter Arnold are set to produce the revival. Davenport and Arnold last produced Arden’s Spring Awakening revival which began at Deaf West. Michael Starobin, the original orchestrator, and vocal designer Ann Marie Milazzo are also both confirmed to work on the production as well. In a December 2016 lab, the two worked to create a new sound for the show using recycled objects such as piping and trash bins as opposed to its original pit orchestra.
Producers have decided to hold an international casting call for the lead role of Ti Moune. Their search will begin in Port-au-Prince, Haiti on April 7th. From there, the producers head back to the states where they will tour to Detroit (April 14th), Chicago (April 15th), Los Angeles (April 27th), New Orleans (April 29th), Atlanta (April 30th) and New York City (May 2nd) in search of their next leading lady.
In a statement, Michael Arden expressed his excitement about bringing the piece back to Broadway next season saying;
“I am so thrilled to be bringing one of the finest pieces of American musical theatre back to Broadway this fall. Ahrens and Flaherty have created a perfect combination of music and words that has inspired an entire generation of artists and theatre-goers alike. This tale of how love can conquer death and break down (literal) walls between races and social spheres is both timeless and incredibly timely. I am excited for audiences to witness the work of this incredibly talented and diverse creative team and company.”
This revival would mark the first time Once On This Island has returned to Broadway since it’s debut in the early 1990’s. The show premiered Off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons in May 1990. Following critical acclaim, the show transferred to Broadway that fall and began performances at The Booth Theatre on October 18th, 1990. The show went on to play 19 previews and 469 performances before closing over a year later on December 1st, 1991. The musical was nominated for eight Tony Awards; including Best Book, Best Original Score and Best Musical; but went on to not win any that season. The musical went to London’s West End in 1994 where it was nominated for four Olivier Awards and went on to win Best New Musical.
LUNER LOWDOWN: While I can’t fully express my love for the Flaherty and Ahrens team, Once On This Island has always proved one of my favorite musicals. It is a brilliant piece that touches upon the universal and timeless story of racial and social class differences while focusing on an island and it’s inhabitants. One of the best elements of Once On This Island, or as I was like to refer to it…OOTI, is it’s music. Aherns and Flaherty infused a new flavor to Broadway when this show first premiered in the early 1990’s and will continue to do so when reinventing this show’s sound for its first ever revival. It is a piece not only long overdue for a revival but more timely now than ever with love being condemned and differences among race and social classes highlighted, rather than celebrated, under the Trump administration.
Many thanks to the Once On This Island Facebook Page for the featured photo in this article.
Luner on Theatre will keep you updated as Once On This Island sails back to Broadway this fall and news such as casting, additional creative team members and a Broadway home are announced.