‘Once on This Island’ to kick off theatre season at UAPB

If the tropical and political storms of the past weeks haven’t moved you, then just wait to see the song and dance-filled musical, “Once on This Island”, presented by the John McLinn Ross Players of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.

With book and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and music by Stephen Flaherty, “Once on This Island”, winner of the 1995 Olivier Award for Best New Musical, is based on the 1985 novel “My Love, My Love; or, The Peasant Girl” by Rosa Guy.

With performances beginning Thursday and ending Nov. 18 at the Hathaway-Howard Fine Arts Center, the JMRP plans to take its audience on a journey to the “jewel of the Antilles,” a former French colony where the people are divided by class and color. On this island, audiences are bound to laugh and cry as they follow the journey of Ti Moune, a poor orphan who grows up to find her freedom from death through love for a wealthy young man. Reminiscent of both “The Little Mermaid” and “Romeo & Juliet”, but soaked in rich Caribbean flavors, this popular musical is appropriate for children and adults who are enthralled by storytelling and lyric movement. Outstanding student talents, Samille Palm and Clarence Stokes, are the choreographers while student musicians, Rashad Maybell; the band, Ear Candy; and professor of music, Harold Fooster, back the performers.

Directed by Cheryl Collins, UAPB’s director of theatre, and under the musical direction of Melissa Davis, voice instructor at UAPB, this production is a theatrical collaboration of the highest caliber.

Plan ahead for the rest of the 2012-2013 Freedom Season, including the February 2013 children’s musical, “The Gingerbread Man” by David Wood, and biting political comedy by Karani Marcia Leslie, “The Trial of One Short-sighted Black Woman Versus Mammy Louise and Safreeta Mae” in April 2013.

In addition to the regular season, Collins will premiere her newest one-woman show, “If I’m Lyin’, I’m Flyin’,” on Dec. 5. A special fundraiser for the JMRP’s spring conference in Baltimore, the evening features the show about pioneering black aviator, Bessie Coleman, and will be presented along with BAD (Black And Defiant), an uplifting look at black men who have dared to be great by Stephan Collins-Stepney.

Show dates and times for “One on This Island”

• Thursday at 7:30 p.m. (UAPB Student Night)

• Friday at 7:30 p.m.

• Saturday at 3 and 7:30 p.m.

• Nov. 18 at 3 p.m.

Single ticket prices are general admission $10; children and students $5; and groups of 20 or more $6

Season subscriptions include: Golden Lion Rate $25 (one ticket per production); Coalition Rate $50 (two tickets per production); Lion’s Pride Rate $100 (four tickets per production).

For more information, contact Alexis Skinner at 870-575-8428 or skinnera@uapb.edu. to book season, group or individual tickets for performances of “Once on This Island.”