WHAT: “Once On This Island”

WHO: Community Little Theatre

WHEN: at 8 p.m. March 7, 8, 14 and 15; at 7:30 p.m. March 13; and at 2 p.m. March 9 and 16

WHERE: Great Falls Performing Arts Center, 30 Academy St., Auburn

TICKETS: $15. Visit www.laclt.com or call 783-0958.

CLT wards off winter doldrums with a trip to the tropics

AUBURN – It’s time for a trip to the Caribbean.

Lewiston-Auburn Community Little Theatre is bringing us a stageful of sunshine and calypso-flavored song with its production of “Once On This Island, opening Friday, March 7.

The musical by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty is a re-telling of the traditional “Little Mermaid” tale, taking place on a Caribbean island divided by social prejudice.

“It has great music and is a great show with a tremendous story of how love conquers death,” said director Ron Bouffard.

For the first time in its 68-year history, CLT has assembled an all African-American cast. An audition call went out several weeks ago, and a workshop was scheduled for the benefit of any who were interested but haven’t had previous experience in theatrical productions.

“I am thrilled with the caliber of talent that has come from all over to perform in this show,” Bouffard said.

“Once On This Island” delivers colorful costumes and sets. The show is 90 percent sung, with music ranging from tender ballads to rousing celebratory numbers of love and joy in tropical abundance.

Bouffard said the plot is a captivating legend of romance that focuses on the effects of social class divisions on love.

The show opens as a folk tale is being told around a campfire during a terrible thunderstorm. The story revolves around Ti Moune, a poor peasant girl, who falls in love with Daniel, an upper-class boy whose life she saves after a car crash.

The role of Ti Moune will be played by Felicia Brown, and Daniel will be portrayed by Pablo Barajas.

Marylyn Scott, a Bates College employee, is cast as Ti Moune’s mother, Mama Euralie. Her father, Tonton Julien, will be played by Glenn Atkins.

Four Haitian spirits who control the lives of the peasants are Erzulie, god of love, played by Rene Johnson of Portland; Asaka, god of earth, played by Tiffany Warren; Agwa, god of water, played by Tamarick Peters; and Papa Ge, god of death, played by LaShaw Kelly. Warren and Kelly are both from the Brunswick Naval Air Station.

Anyah White and Dazha Allen, who are both in the chorus, are from the Norway-South Paris area.

One of the more recent additions to the cast is Roger Jack, a Lewiston Middle School teacher. Bouffard said Jack came to the theater during a rehearsal a couple of weeks ago. “He said something like, ‘I heard you guys were looking for people,’ so we found a spot for him right away,” Bouffard added. Jack is cast as a variety of characters, including a gatekeeper and the father of Daniel.

Other cast members include Mama Oye Anoff-Ntow, Maame Bonsu, Megan Guynes, Grace Adkins, Leyla Davis, Jill Hurd and Ruthie Hurd.

All of the cast members are experienced singers and about half have stage experience, according to Bouffard. Many are members of local church choirs.

The show has principal roles for five men and five women, but the plot is flexible enough to adjust or add parts. Bouffard said he had so many talented people show up that some extra parts were created so everyone could participate.

Some cast members who had not done theater before were surprised at the complexity of putting on a full-scale musical, Bouffard said, crediting Allison Traynor as a tremendous asset as stage manager and vocal coach for “Once On This Island.”

“It’s also a real treat for CLT to open up these doors to many performers who had not worked with us before,” Bouffard said.

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