Who's Telling the Story? Meet the Full Company of ONCE ON THIS ISLAND, Opening Tonight on Broadway
The new Broadway production of Once On This Island officially opens tonight, December 3rd, at the Circle in the Square Theatre (235 W. 50th street, NYC), and is directed by Tony nominee Michael Arden, and choreographed by the critically-acclaimed Camille A. Brown. Scroll down to learn more about the company and watch highlights from the show!
Lea Salonga (Erzulie), Alex Newell (Asaka), Merle Dandridge (Papa Ge), and Quentin Earl Darrington (Agwe) are joined by newcomer, Hailey Kilgore (Ti Moune) with Phillip Boykin (Tonton Julian), Darlesia Cearcy (Storyteller), Rodrick Covington (Storyteller), Emerson Davis (Little Girl) Alysha Deslorieux (Andrea), Tyler Hardwick (Storyteller), Cassondra James (Storyteller), David Jennings (Armand), Grasan Kingsberry (Storyteller), Loren Lott (Storyteller), Kenita R. Miller (Mama Euralie), Isaac Powell (Daniel), T. Oliver Reid (Storyteller), Aurelia Williams (Storyteller), and Mia Williamson (Little Girl).
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.
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.
Merle Dandridge (PAPA GE) is honored to return to the Broadway boards to tell one of her favorite stories: Love always wins. She currently stars in the Oprah Winfrey/Lionsgate produced television show "Greenleaf" as Grace Greenleaf which is soon heading into its third season. She has previously been seen on Broadway in Spamalot (Lady of the Lake), Rent (Joanne), Aida (Aida), Tarzan (Kala) and Jesus Christ Superstar (Soul Girl, Disciple, Mary u/s). She has toured the U.S. and Europe six times, played The Hollywood Bowl and Royal Albert Hall and been featured in several regional theatre productions including multiple stints at The Geffen Playhouse and Pasadena Playhouse. Merle's recurring television roles include Gwen Gaskin in NBC's "Night Shift," Vega in CW's "Star-Crossed" and Rita Roosevelt in FX's "Sons of Anarchy." Among her video game characters are her BAFTA-winning turn as Katherine Collins in "Everybody's Gone to the Rapture," her award-winning portrayals as Marlene in "The Last of Us," and Alyx Vance in "Half Life 2," "DOTA 2" and "Unchartered 4." For Mark Ford.
Quentin Earl Darrington (AGWE) - What a blessing to join the Once On This Island family! Broadway: Cats, Ragtime. Off Broadway: The Secret Garden, Lincoln Center; A New Brain, NY City Center; Lost In the Stars, NY City Center; The Roar of the Greasepaint..., York Theatre Company. National Tours: Memphis, The Color Purple, The Lion King, Ragtime. Regional: Les Miserables, Drury Lane Theatre; Nicholas Nickleby, Orlando Shakes; Tarzan, the MUNY; Gee's Bend, Cincinnati Playhouse; I Dream, ALLIANCE THEATRE; A Little Night Music, Sacramento Music Circus; Jacques Brel..., Straz PAC. Bert Williams, Paul Robeson, Louie Armstrong, and Sammy Davis Jr. is why... "we tell the story!"
Alex Newell (ASAKA) is more than thrilled to be making his Broadway debut! Alex is best known for playing Wade "Unique" Adams, a transgender student on FOX's "Glee." Although the stage is where it all began, some of his favorite roles include: Hairspray (Motormouth Maybelle), Cinderella (Fairy Godmother), Saturday Night Fever (Candy). Alex is also a recording artist with Atlantic Records where he's released songs with Clean Bandit ("Stronger"), Blonde ("All Cried Out") and The Knocks ("Collect my Love"). All available now along with his debut EP entitled Power, and new single "Keep It Moving." Also Kill the Lights (Nile Rogers and DJ Cassidy) which was featured on HBO's "Vinyl."
Lea Salonga (ERZULIE) - Broadway: Kim in Miss Saigon (Tony, Olivier, Drama Desk and OCC Awards), Allegiance, Les Miserables, Flower Drum Song. International: Fun Home, Cats, Cinderella, God of Carnage. Film/TV: singing voices of Jasmine in Aladdin and Fa Mulan in Mulan, "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend," Les Miserables for PBS (10th and 25th Anniversary concerts), "Hey, Mr. Producer." As a concert artist Lea has toured globally, performing in some of the world's most iconic concert venues and in 2017 broke the record for the most consecutive performances at Feinstein's/54 Below with her acclaimed show Blurred Lines, also an album.
Phillip Boykin (TONTON JULIAN) is a Bass-Baritone from Greenville, SC. He is a TONY, Drama Desk, Outer Critic Circle, Awards nominee, winner Theater World Award and I.R.N.E. for "Crown" in Porgy and Bess. He's a graduate of The Hartt School. Performances include: "A Boatman" Sunday In The Park With George, "TW" Sondheim on Sondheim LA Philharmonic/Boston Pops, "Booker T. Washington" Ragtime, "Jim" Big River, "Pirate King/Samuel" Pirates of Penzance, On The Town, "Joe" Show Boat, "Ken" Ain't Misbehavin', Caiaphas in Jesus Christ Superstar, and JCS Gospel. He Directs THE NYGOSPEL BROTHERS. Movies: Top Five, Freedom, & Easter Mysteries.
Darlesia Cearcy (STORYTELLER) recently appeared as Simone Murphy on S5 of "House of Cards;" S5 of "Elementary" on CBS. Broadway: Lottie Gee in Shuffle Along; The Book of Mormon; Nettie in The Color Purple, Sarah in Ragtime for which she received a Helen Hayes nomination, and The Goodbye Girl! Her single release "Everlasting" appeared on MTV's Most Wanted, VH1, Top of the Pops in London, and was nominated for a Viva Award. Television: "Law and Order SVU," Ms. Berg in "Rescue Me," "Nurse Jackie" and Mercy as "Adrienne Mercer" on NBC. Film Credits: Sharla in The Challenger and Rush.
Rodrick Covington (STORYTELLER) - Broadway: The Lion King. Off-Broadway: Joan of Arc, Invisible Thread, Drumstruck, Central Avenue Breakdown. Regional: Witness Uganda, Miss Saigon (Best Actor Nomination), The Brothers/Sister Plays(Best Actor Nomination); Venice, Pippin, Jelly's Last Jam (Best Actor Nomination), In the Red and Brown Water. National Tour: Fosse. Other tours include South Africa at the renowned Baxter and Market Theatre as the lead in The Brother Size. TV: "Law & Order: Criminal Intent," and "Chappelle's Show." Nutrition and Fitness at Corerhythmfitness.net. Grateful to God, family, friends, Roco, and Jay. Ephesians 3:20.
Emerson Davis (LITTLE GIRL) is thrilled about her Broadway debut! Recent performances: C.G. Paterson in Annie Warbucks, Sabina in Back O'Town. Emerson plays the cello and has performed at Carnegie Hall and the UN. Special thanks to her parents, Amelia, Carson Kolker and Zoom Management.
Alysha Deslorieux (ANDREA) comes directly from the Broadway company of Hamilton where she was playing the roles of Peggy Schuyler/Maria Reynolds. She was a member of the original company both at The Public Theatre and on Broadway, where she stood by for Eliza Hamilton, Angelica Schuyler and Peggy. Other Broadway credits include Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (Original Broadway Company) and Sister Act (Deloris u/s). She traveled with the national tour of Sister Act (Deloris standby). Regionally she was seen in Found (Denise) at the Philadelphia Theatre Company, also the St. Louis MUNY and Marriott Lincolnshire in Chicago.
Tyler Hardwick (STORYTELLER) is thrilled be a part of Once On This Island! Broadway: Motown the Musical (Eddie Kendricks, Smokey Robinson u.s.); Tours: Dreamgirls (C.C. White); Motown the Musical (Norman Whitfield); New York: ACAPPELLA, the Musical (Jeremiah); Little Dancer (Gilbert); Popstar (Robby); Regional: RENT(Angel); You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown (Snoopy); Shrek the Musical; Hairspray. All of my love to my family and friends for your endless support!
Cassondra James (STORYTELLER) is delighted to be making her Broadway debut in Once On This Island. Recent credits include The First Noel with the Classical Theatre of Harlem. As a background vocalist, she has performed alongside a wide range of artists including Christina Aguilera, Wynton Marsalis, Cory Henry and the Funk Apostles, Kim Burrell, Laura Izibor, Ledisi, and Gladys Knight. She is currently finishing a PhD at the Graduate Center (CUNY).
David Jennings (STORYTELLER) is thrilled to return to Broadway in this iconic production and once again work with Lynn and Stephen. Broadway: After Midnight, Hands On A Hardbody, Genius of Ray Charles (West End). Tours/Regional: Ragtime (Coalhouse), Dreamgirls (Curtis), Kinky Boots (Simon Sr.), Sister Act (Eddie), Waitress w/Sara Bareilles, Disney's Freaky Friday (Mike), Ain't Misbehavin' (Grammy Nom. for 30th Anniversary Recording). Television: "Blue Bloods," "The Shield," "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver."
Grasan Kingsberry (STORYTELLER) is an Emmy Award winner. This is his eleventh Broadway production. Recently appeared in the Grammy and Tony Award winning Best Revival The Color Purple. Favorite Broadway credits include: Motown, Leap of Faith, Catch Me If You Can, Finian's Rainbow, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Aida. Regional: One Night In Miami (Sam Cooke, Center Stage), Dreamgirls (Curtis, North Shore). TV/film: "Mozart In The Jungle," "Royal Pains," "Smash," I Am Legend. BFA, Juilliard. Thanks: creator, family, FSE, and KBK.
Loren Lott (STORYTELLER) San Diego native. Clark Atlanta University alumna (BA, Mass Media Arts). American Idol Top 16 in 2015. TV/Film credits include "Tales," "The Quad," "Greenleaf" (Season 2 Soundtrack), "Powers," "The Game," "Fatal Attraction," "Tag." Broadway and regional theatre: Motown the Musical, Broadway and National Tour (Diana Ross u/s, Gladys Knight, Esther), Ragtime (Sarah), Shrek the Musical (Fiona u/s), Once On This Island (Erzulie), Sweet Charity (Ursula/Carmen), The Princess and the Black-eyed Pea.
Kenita R. Miller (MAMA EURALIE) - Bway: The Color Purple (Celie), Xanadu (Erato/Kira understudy) Off B'way: Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin (Granny) Encores!, Bella: an American Tall Tale (Miss Cabbagestalk/Mama), Merrily We Roll Along (Encores!), Wild Party (Encores!), Langston In Harlem (Zora Neale Hurston-Drama Desk Nom./ Audelco Award), Working (Drama Desk Award), Avenue Q. Regional: Parade (Minnie McKnight, Angela/2014 Barrymore Award Outstanding Featured Actress), Once On This Island (Timoune/ Mama Euralie), Ragtime (Sarah) Film/TV: "Sesame Street," "Hostages," "Blacklist."
Isaac Powell (DANIEL) is a 2017 graduate of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. A native of Greensboro, North Carolina, he recently originated the title role of Nikola Tesla in Nikola Tesla Drops The Beat by Nikko Benson and Benjamin Halstead at the Adirondack Theatre Festival.
T. Oliver Reid (STORYTELLER) is honored to celebrate show #12 with Once On This Island. BROADWAY: Sunset Boulevard, After Midnight, Sister Act, Mary Poppins, The Wedding Singer, La Cage Aux Folles, Chicago, Never Gonna Dance, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Follies, Kiss Me Kate. FILM/TV: Sex & The City, "Girls", "Mercy". "All things come of thee, O Lord..." Thanks to JLF, CTG, CLA. Proud AEA Member and prouder #OneOfMildredsKids.
Aurelia Williams (STORYTELLER) - Past credits include B'way: In Transit; Off B'way: Sistas the Musical, They Wrote That, Ragtime (Ellis Island); Nat'l Tours: All Shook Up, Ain't Misbehavin'; Regional: Dreamgirls (Effie White), Once On This Island (Asaka), Hairspray (Motormouth Maybelle), Kiss Me Kate (Hattie), Ragtime (Sarah's Friend), Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (Jewel). Aurelia would like to thank her incredible family for their love and endless support!
Mia Williamson (LITTLE GIRL) is so excited to make her Broadway debut in Once On This Island. She is also a pianist and has won 1st place at international piano competitions. She would like to thank her manager Peggy Becker Parkside Talent, Abrams, Bryan Wade & Julia Mendelson, Michelle Aravena, and her friends and family for making her dreams come true.
Hailey Kilgore (TI MOUNE) - Born in Humble, Texas, Hailey was adopted at birth and raised by her parents in the small town of Happy Valley, Oregon. Starting at age six, she was involved with a local children's choir. While she has studied classical, jazz, opera, country, and gospel, her love has always been musical theatre. In high school, she competed at the local, state and national level for singing. She won second place in the August Wilson Monologue Competition in Portland, and competed at the National August Wilson Monologue Competition in New York. Regional credits include: Ain't Misbehavin' (Woman, Portland Center Stage), Our Town (Rebecca Gibbs, Portland Center Stage), PWP Perfect Works In Progress (Donald Webster), Romeo and Juliet (Prince, Ensemble), Crumbs From The Table Of Joy (Ermina), The Colored Museum. Hailey was accepted into the Musical Theatre program at The American Musical and Dramatic Academy.