Shake off the winter blues with the engaging tale of “Once On This Island JR.” performed by Salem’s very own Children’s Theatre at the Salem Community Theatre.
Based upon the novel “My Love, My Love” by Rosa Guy, and book and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens with music by Stephan Flaherty, it is a much needed tropical musical vacation.
This show opens with the story of gods, peasants, a childless couple and a little girl lost in a storm. After a terrible weather event, Ti Moune (played by Sherlyn Himes) is coaxed out from a tree and into the loving arms of Mama Euralie (played by Tori Mollenkopf) and Tonton Julian (played by Evan Shobel). Over time and circumstance Ti Moune grows into a lovely young woman as she is fated to be (played by Emily Shar).
Growing up on an island rich with traditions that employ assistance from the gods, Ti Moune, learns some perennial lessons. While praying for the gods’ assistance to learn her purpose, gods Erzulie and Papa Ge choose to help. It is only when Ti Moune sees Daniel (Played by Sasha Davis) the wealthy city dweller form the other side of the island, and rescues from sure death by nursing him back to health, does this become clear to Ti Moune. The scenes when Ti Moune sings to Daniel are especially sweet, as only too soon she learns her love for him is unrequited.
Gods are pesky in that once a favor is given there is a price to pay. The gods Erzulie god of love (played by Emma Kelly) and Papa Ge god of death (played by Bethany Kholos) were especially convincing and their musical talent obvious. Gods Asaka mother Earth (played by Ashlynn Kufleitner) and Agwe god of water (played by Carter Romine) were powerful.
This set was simply decorated, giving the characters room to tell the story effectively by allowing the musical talent and the choreography to tell the story. By having thoroughly thought out each character’s motivation, and knowing what is pleasing to the audience’s eye, this production was clean and genuine.
The ensemble in this play is so strong; it is the backbone of the production. The entire cast of this show can be proud of the musical strength and integrity of the production brought to the stage in this heartfelt tale of tropical love, loss, hope and the traditions of “Once On This Island JR.”
Performances will continue this weekend at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday. For tickets, call Salem Community Theatre at 330-332-9688.
Do yourself a favor and soak up some of the local youth talei island musical flavor.
– Gina Boley-Carter is a recent transplant from Burlington, New Jersey (with husband Joe, and their two large dogs) and is currently focusing on unpacking, navigating the streets of Columbiana County and drinking coffee. Gina has reviewed for the Mooreland and local theatre productions for the past six years.