Once On This Island @ Village Theatre (Issaquah + Everett)

A lavish fairytale 🌴

📸: Village Theatre

📍 Village Theatre (Issaquah): 303 Front St N, Issaquah
📆 Tuesday, May 14th – Sunday, June 16th
🎟️ Buy Issaquah tickets

📍 Village Theatre (Everett): 2730 Wetmore Avenue, Everett
📆 Saturday, June 22nd – Sunday, July 14th
🎟️ Buy Everett tickets

Once On This Island‘s initial run was nothing to scoff at. Written by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens (AnastasiaSeussical), it was nominated for eight Tonys in 1991 and won the Olivier Award for Best Musical for its West End debut a few years later. High schools and regional theatres around the world consistently stage it, something I’m sure is helped by it being short, intermission-less, and with plentiful roles for persons of color.

Regardless, it is having a capital-M Moment. The 2017 Broadway restaging was a genre-shifting production that won the 2018 Tony for Best Revival of a Musical over some heavy competition (e.g. Bartlett Sher’s major Lincoln Center overhaul of My Fair Lady). I saw it in the middle of the 2018 NY bomb cyclone, and it felt like a warm breeze right into my heart. While the national tour was cut short by the pandemic, it gave the United States reason to revisit Flahery & Ahrens’ second-best work (that would be Ragtime, IMO) with fresh eyes. Big shout-out to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s 2022 staging, which made me weep.

Enter Village Theatre, who is giving this lavish fairytale the attention it deserves. Island is based on Rosa Guy’s novel My Love, My Love, itself a loose adaptation of The Little Mermaid. With the setting shifted to the French Antilles, four Caribbean gods tell the tale of young Ti Moune, a peasant girl who falls for a light-skinned grand homme but must sacrifice more than she expected. It is Black joy writ large and a tragedy you can’t look away from, with a score that will never leave your head.

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Marcus Gorman

Marcus Gorman is a Seattle-based playwright and film programmer. He once raised money for a synagogue by marathoning 15 Adam Sandler movies in one weekend. You can find him on Instagram and Twitter @marcus_gorman.