“Once on This Island, Jr.” is a musical spin on the fairy tale “The Little Mermaid”
Treat the family to “Once on This Island, Jr.,” a musical twist on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale “The Little Mermaid,” presented by Mainstage Center for the Arts at the Dennis Flyer Theatre, located at Camden County College, from July 12 through 14.
Featuring almost non-stop song and dance, “Once on This Island, Jr.,” will delight audiences of all ages. The production, sponsored by Precision Power Wash and First Bank, kicks off the Summer Stage Children’s Theatre season and will include festive activities on opening night including cold samples from Starbucks at the Gloucester Premium Outlets, children’s science games by Challenge Island and one lucky audience member will be randomly selected to win a basket of “island-themed” prizes.
“Once on This Island, Jr.,” written by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, tells the story of Ti Moune, played by Anaya Colon of Cherry Hill as Big Ti Moune and Jayla Ortiz of Laurel Springs as Little Ti Moune, a peasant girl who rescues and falls in love with Daniel, played by Charlie Bell of Somerdale/Gloucester Township, a young man from a wealthy family.
Central to the story are four gods that the peasants believe rule their lives: Asaka, mother of the earth, played by Nadia Parker of Monroeville; Agwé, god of water, played by Laura Ahern of Somerdale/Gloucester Township; Erzulie, goddess of love, played by Lauren Pluta of Runnemede; and Papa Ge, demon of death, played by Krisin Bassi of Sicklerville. These gods guide Ti Moune on a quest to test the strength of her love against the powerful forces of prejudice, hatred and death.
“I’m really excited about playing TiMoune. It’s a dream role for me because it involves a lot of dancing. Plus, she’s such a brave character,” Colon said.
Bell also looks forward to his role as Daniel.
“I like that this is a unique story,” Bell said. “Daniel is caring, he crosses boundaries and falls in love with a peasant. He’s also flawed. I’m having fun exploring different ways to interpret this character.”
“Once on This Island, Jr.” will be directed by Grace Szcepkowski of Marlton.
“This story is so special to me. I love how it is about passing on a story of overcoming adversity and following your dreams to the younger generation. The music is beautiful; almost every line from the show is meaningful enough to stand on its own,” said Szczepkowski. “While we are doing this show, we are also trying to educate our cast about global issues that connect to this story. We have a plastic and paper repurposing station set up in our trailer where we can dump leftover paper and plastics to use when we need to make props. We have a fact board about environmental issues and about Haiti which is where our story takes place.”
Additional characters include Andrea Devereaux, by Nicole Duffy of Williamstown; Daniel’s mother, by Rachel Campbell of Deptford; five storytellers, including Jenna Byrzewski of Westville, Angelina Canavan of Glassboro, Carleigh Cusick of Washington Township, Essence Gandy of Sicklerville, Kaitly Hackett of Sicklerville and Diana Pinolini of Glendora; little girl, played by Claire Corriveau of Plansboro; and the Gatekeeper, by John Koza of Mantua. In addition, there are 45 cast members who are featured dancers, ensemble members and soloists.
The show will run on July 12 and 13 at 7:30 p.m. and July 14 at 10:30 a.m. Ticket prices are $12 for ages 12 and older, and $10 for students younger than 12. To purchase tickets, visit www.mainstage.org, or call (856) 227–3091.