To celebrate its 10th anniversary, Acting Up Stage Company – the city’s premiere non-profit musical theatre – is staging a new production of Ahrens and Flaherty’s Once On This Island which opened last Tuesday at Daniels Spectrum Ada Slaight Hall, 585 Dundas St. E.
Adapted from Rosa Guy’s 1985 novel, My Love, My Love, Once On This Island examines Shadeism and unites contemporary applications in the present-day Caribbean by seamlessly melding a Tony-nominated Caribbean-infused score, dazzling choreography and stunning theatrical staging.
The musical production cast includes singer/actor/entertainer Arlene Duncan whose film and television credits include Degrassi: The Next Generation, Covert Affairs and Get Rich or Die Tryin’.
“I didn’t see the original Broadway, but I did the show about 20 years ago in Toronto with Salome Bey and amazing cast,” Duncan said. “This cast, which includes Kaya Joubert Johnson and Sabryn Rock who I worked with on the award-winning Caroline, or Change is even more fabulous.”
In creating the new production, Acting Up Stage Company transforms the Daniels Spectrum into an intimate thrust stage and returns the musical to its Caribbean roots by revisiting traditional music and dance.
“I am planning on making this production much truer to the Caribbean experience than the Broadway production,” said director Nigel Shawn Williams. “It’s coming from a more human experience. The choreography has an Afro-Caribbean feel and lives very low to the ground. We want the story to touch people in a contemporary new way so that they will leave the theatre joyous and heartbroken.”
The production is part of the TD “Then and Now” series for Black History Month.
“We are honoured to be an official participant in this series,” said artistic director Mitchell Marcus. “I am thrilled to present, once again, a contemporary musical which examines current issues in global race relations in association with Obsidian Theatre Company…I have no doubt that new and returning audiences of all ages will be mesmerised and touched by this Olivier award winning musical.”
Performances run Tuesday to Saturday evenings at 8 p.m. There are also Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.
Ticket prices range from $35 to $50 and can be obtained online at www.actingupstage.com or by calling 1-800-838-3006.