Thursday, September 4, 2008

Review - Once On This Island

Once On This Island
book and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens; music by Stephen Flaherty
directed by Billy Porter
Reprise Theatre Company
Freud, UCLA
through September 14
This is the second scintillating production of this musical that I have seen within the last few years, the first being one at ICT in Long Beach. I am saying now what I said then: the beauty of this show lies in the simplicity of the storytelling and with the gorgeous music of Ahrens and Flaherty. Of course, some truly great singing and dancing from the entire ensemble is what makes it all tick, and both are here in copious amounts, man.
A one-act that moves without stop, Island comes to life with the character of Ti Moune (Kristolyn Lloyd) and the TLC that exudes from every pore of her being.
Despite discouraging words from her adopted parents (Yvette Cason and Lance Roberts) that entering the other world on the opposite side of the island is forbidden, tabu, she rushes in where angels fear to tread and faces her sad destiny. The moral soon unravels as in every fable: everything renews from the all-encompassing power of LOVE.
Lloyd is breathtaking to behold; there are no false moves. Cason and Ledisi serve the score prestigiously, and the entire cast, including Darina Littleton, Jesse Nager as Daniel, Brian Chandler, Nicolette Robinson, Bryan Terrell Clark, Leslie Odom, Jr. and Vanita Harbour, take soul to the highest peak. Porter's direction is fast-paced, never letting us down for a second, and Bradley Rapier's titillating choreography is like a heat wave of rhythm. Costumes - all white - by Anita Yavich and purposeful scenic desgin by John H. Binkley add the right exotic touches. This is one of the best evenings of theatre: it will pull you in, hold onto you, and blow you away!
5 out of 5 stars


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