FRIDAY, JULY 27: The rich exoticism of the Caribbean will be portrayed through eclectic dance and vibrant costume in Troika’s latest production Once On This Island.
And the young cast are getting to grips with multi-tasking for this all singing all dancing show choreographed by Bermuda’s own professional choreographer Eric Bean.
This theatrical adaptation of the fairy tale Little Mermaid, with elements of Romeo and Juliet, is being directed by established Las Vegas director Steven Huntsman.
The original show garnered eight Tony Awards for its Broadway run including Best Musical Book, Book and Score.
It tells the story of a black peasant girl called Ti Moune who falls in love Daniel, a wealthy boy from the Grand Homme population.
The fantastical gods rule their island and guide Ti Moune to test the strength of love over the forces of prejudice, hatred and death.
Bean explained that he has used a variety of dances in the play to represent the opposing cultures of the peasants and the Grand Hommes.
He explained: “For the peasants there is this idea of a people who have to work day and night to make ends meet — it is very grounded but also very joyous. Their dance is earthy and it still has this sense of family and community.
“For the Grand Hommes, their story is told by the peasants and so it is almost like a mockery of what is going on. Everything is very big and grandioso and staccato — very upright and very stiff.”
“The thing about this particular musical is it is very rich in ethnicity. It is set on a fictitious island in the Caribbean where people are influenced by the African Diaspora and I stuck with that.
“I also pull from modern, classical court dancing from the Elizabethan period, and contemporary modern and ballet for a couple of scenes where we have some beautiful partner work to bring this all together.”
For most of the young actors this production presents the new challenge of having to combine the three disciplines of acting, dancing and singing.
Coy Millett and Markesiyah Wilson DeShields play two of the more significant roles in the play — Markesiyah plays the young version of Ti Moune while Coy Millett plays Tonton Julian, Ti Moune’s adoptive father.
Markesiyah, who at ten years old is the youngest actress to take part in a Troika play, told the Bermuda Sun: “I had to begin to think about the singing and the movements to make sure they matched. It has taken practice, but I now have the coordination down. I love the fact that my character is very playful because she is a lot like me. She also likes to do her own little thing, I’m like that too.”
Markesiyah said she would love to develop her acting skills and to eventually study performing arts at college.
As for Coy, he played the leading role in Troika’s last play but has never had to combine all three disciplines before. He said: “Everyone has do sing and dance my character is principal and I have to do some dancing which is definitely outside of my confidence level.
“But between Steve, Eric and Edith Caines, (vocal and choral producer) a lot of us have become a lot more comfortable with the idea stepping out of the box.
“It’s been great working with Steve Huntsman because he brings a wealth of knowledge because of his experience. This is my second year with Troika and doing a musical is very ambitious but he is able to understand it is our first time, he has patience and experience and it allows us to go above and beyond what we are used to.”
Shoa Bean of Troika said that audiences will be wowed by the costumes designed by Huntsman and his wife, many of which were used in his Vegas run of the show.
She said: “We are really excited about that part of the show and this year we stepped up with everything — the costumes are amazing. They are just beautiful and some reflect the characters of the Gods — earth, water, love, death.”
Coy, who is studying political science at university, says he hopes a positive message will come through to anyone who comes to see the play.
“I hope that we can take from this an understanding that even if we come from different backgrounds or different areas that at the end of the day everyone is human we all have feelings there is always something that can connect with others. But as long as we stay in our social circles then a lot of our social ills that we have in our community are going to continue. But we need to reach out to the people that’s how we can fight the social ills.”
He added: “From August 23 to 25 we are going to be able to put together one of the best productions Bermuda has ever seen. People are always complaining about the young people but we are putting together one of the best shows that people can find in Bermuda — it is so positive. We have put so much time and energy into it so I really hope that Bermuda comes out and support something positive.When: August 23 to 25. Friday, August 24 is the Family Night with family pack discounts available. For group sales call 278-1508
Where: Ruth Seaton James Centre Centre for the Performing Arts
Time: Doors open at 7:30pm. Show starts at 8pm. Run time 90 mins.
Tickets: Now on sale at www.ptix.bm. Tickets can also be purchased at the Liberty Theatre box office. From August they can be purchased at the www.ptix.bm physical box office in Dockyard or by calling 278-1508
Price: Student tickets are $25/general admission is $30 in advance or $40 at the door/donor tickets (which include preferred seating) start at $50.