Merle Dandridge to Return to ONCE ON THIS ISLAND for Limited Engagement
The producers of Broadway's Once On This Island announced today that Merle Dandridge will return to the Tony Nominated production for a limited time from June 18 - August 19. Current cast member Tamyra Gray will return as Papa Ge on August 20.
"Reviving Once On This Island was one of the most creatively and emotionally rewarding experiences of my life," remarked Merle Dandridge. "It was bittersweet to leave this beautiful Island family after our rigorous rehearsal and preview process and only six weeks into the run to return to a wonderful season 3 of "Greenleaf" on OWN. It was a banner year and it is now topped by the opportunity to come back to the Island this summer. Creating the heartbreaking and terrifying journey for a female Papa Ge was and is a thrill. I cannot wait to delve deeper into the character this summer."
The new Broadway production of Once On This Island, produced by Ken Davenport and Hunter Arnold, is the recipient of eight Tony Award® nominations including Best Musical Revival and Best Leading Actress (Hailey Kilgore), seven Drama Desk Award nominations, six Outer Critics Circle nominations and three Chita Rivera Award nominations. It opened on December 3 at The Circle in the Square Theatre (235 West 50th Street) to rave reviews.
Once On This Island is written by the Tony Award-winning team Lynn Ahrens (Book and Lyrics) and Stephen Flaherty (Music), and based on the novel "My Love, My Love" by Rosa Guy. This production features new orchestrations by original orchestrator Michael Starobin who is joined by AnnMarie Milazzo.
The creative team also includes Dane Laffrey (Scenic Design), Clint Ramos (Costume Design), Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer (Lighting Designers), Peter Hylenski (Sound Designer), John Bertles/Bash The Trash (Unusual Instruments), Cookie Jordan (Hair/Wig & Makeup Designer), Chris Fenwick (Music Supervisor), Alvin Hough, Jr. (Music Director), David Perlow (Associate Director), Nikki M. James (Assistant Director), Rickey Tripp (Associate Choreographer) and Telsey + Co / Craig Burns, CSA (Casting Agent).
Additional producers include Carl Daikeler, Roy Putrino, Broadway Strategic Return Fund, Sandi Moran, Caiola Productions, H. Richard Hopper, Diego Kolankowsky, Brian Cromwell Smith, Ron Kastner, Rob Kolson, Judith Manocherian, Kevin Lyle, Jay Alix, Una Jackman, Jeff Wise, Witzend Productions, Jeff Grove, Wishnie-Strasberg, Mark Ferris, Michelle Riley, Marie Stevenson, Silva Theatrical Group, Jesse McKendry, Dr. Mojgan Fajiram, Conor Bagley, Brendan C. Tetro, Invisible Wall Productions, SilverWalport Productions, Tyler Mount, UshkowitzLatimer Productions, Deitric Johnson, Steven Mulligan, Reilly Hickey, The Harbert Family, Keith Cromwell, Red Mountain Theatre Company, 42nd.Club, The Yonnone Family and Island Productions. The associate producers are Kayla Greenspan and Valerie Novakoff.
Once On This Island is the tale of Ti Moune, a fearless peasant girl who falls in love with a wealthy boy from the other side of the island. When their divided cultures keep them apart, Ti Moune is guided by the powerful island gods, Erzulie, Asaka, Papa Ge, and Agwe, on a remarkable quest to reunite with the man who has captured her heart.
Bursting with Caribbean colors, rhythms and dance, the story comes to vibrant life in a striking production by Tony Award®-nominated director Michael Arden (Spring Awakening revival) and acclaimed choreographer Camille A. Brown. This production transforms the reality of a tropical village devastated by a storm into a fantastical world alive with hope.
Once On This Island premiered at Playwrights Horizons in May of 1990. The Broadway production opened in October of that year and ran for 469 performances garnering eight Tony nominations including Best Featured Actress (LaChanze), Best Original Score, Best Book of a Musical and Best Musical. The 1994 West End production won the Olivier Award for Best New Musical.
Photo Credit: Jennifer Broski