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BWW Feature: ONCE ON THIS ISLAND at The Smith Center

BWW Feature: ONCE ON THIS ISLAND at The Smith Center
Photo by Joan Marcus

An island girl with big dreams and a bigger heart brings her people together in the Tony Award-winning musical (2018 Best Revival of a Musical) Once On This Island. The revival will perform during its limited engagement tour at The Smith Center on March 10-15.

Ti Moune, a fearless peasant girl, searches her place in the world while searching for the man who captured her heart. She is guided by the island gods Papa Ge (demon of Death), Agwé (god of Water), Erzulie (goddess of Love), and Asaka (Mother of the Earth), and as she journeys through a life filled with pain, love, grief, faith, and hope. The four deities rule Jewel of the Antilles island, and the peasants worship them. There are two distinct classes, grands hommes: decedents of French planters and decedents of their slaves: the peasants.

When Agwé unleashes a storm upon the island, the deities spare Ti Moune, who was an orphaned child at the time. When she grows up and prays to them to know her purpose in life, Erzulie wants to bestow love for her. However, Papa Ge proposes a bet for Ti Moune to prove which is stronger: love or death.

It is through this backdrop that Ti Moune meets and falls in love with grand homme, Daniel Beauxhomme. Her journey takes her across the island and faces the man she loves as well as the society that would keep them apart.

Once on This Island is a one-act musical based on the novel by Rosa Guy, My Love, My Love; or, The Peasant Girl. The original Broadway production ran from 1990-1991. The West End production opened in 1994 and won the 1995 Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Musical. The musical was then revived on Broadway opening Dec. 3, 2017, at the Circle in the Square Theatre.

Tamyra Gray stars as Papa Ge, demon of Death, ready to cause havoc on the island. Gray first came to national attention when she finished in fourth place in the first season of American Idol in 2002. Her career took off on Broadway and television, including a recurring role on the third season of Boston Public. Her first appearance on Broadway was a limited engagement in the role of Priya in Bombay Dreams. She joined the cast in the role of Mimi Marquez in Rent from 2007-2008. She took over the role of Papa Ge in Once On This Island in 2018.

Once On This Island will be performed at The Smith Center stage March 10-15. Performances are 7:30 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday with additional 2 p.m. matinees on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are available at The Smith Center Box Office, by calling 702-749-2000, or online at

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