Review: ONCE ON THIS ISLAND at Pioneer Theatre Company is Colorfully Creative

By: Feb. 22, 2020
Get Access To Every Broadway Story

Unlock access to every one of the hundreds of articles published daily on BroadwayWorld by logging in with one click.

Existing user? Just click login.

Review: ONCE ON THIS ISLAND at Pioneer Theatre Company is Colorfully Creative

Pioneer Theatre Company's professional production of ONCE ON THIS ISLAND is a creative reimagining of the star-crossed story.

ONCE ON THIS ISLAND (book and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, music by Stephen Flaherty), from the songwriting team of RAGTIME, ANASTASIA, and SEUSSICAL, is somewhat a retelling of Hans Christian Anderson's original fairy tale THE LITTLE MERMAID set in the French Antilles. Ti Moune is a dark-skinned peasant girl who yearns after an upper-class light-skinned boy from the other side of the island. When the gods of the island offer her the opportunity to give herself for a life with him, can she refuse?

Tyla Collier's Ti Moune is filled with wide-eyed childlike innocence throughout her journey. Her scenes with Jordan Alexander as Daniel Beauxhomme are playful and endearing.

Kristian Espiritu as Erzulie, Terance Reddick as Agwe, Galyana Castillo as Asaka, and Paul-Jordan Jansen as Papa Ge rule the island with mercy and good humor.

Derrick Cobey as Tonton Julian, Cicily Daniels as Mama Euralie, Alanna Saunders as Andrea, and Marqell Edward Clayton as Armand nicely fill out the Equity cast, with local young actress Ava Lynn Smith playing Little Ti Moune.

The small ensemble cast is hard-working and versatile, playing multiple roles throughout the story and performing the enjoyable dances with style.

Directed and choreographed by Gerry McIntyre, who was part of the show's original Broadway cast, this production is very theatrical in nature. The acting is larger than life as the story is told to the audience. Set in a large attic, found objects are used creatively to suggest time, place, and character.

The set design by Daniel Meeker is spacious yet feels confined in a way that provides a nice ambience for the action. The fantastic lighting design by Driscoll Otto subtly directs the audience where to look and also creates moments of excitement and appeal. The costume design by Yoon Bae is colorful and filled with the culture of the Caribbean.

ONCE ON THIS ISLAND plays through March 7, 2020. For tickets, call the box office at 801-581-6961 or visit

Photo Credit: Cast of ONCE ON THIS ISLAND