SALEM - If you've been searching for a warm destination to escape the snow and cold, you may have to look no further than Salem Community Theatre to enjoy its Youth Theatre production of the musical "Once on This Island, Jr.," which will appear on stage for two weekends, Feb. 28 through March 9.
"Once On This Island, Jr." (the "Jr." indicates the youth version of the hit Broadway show), is based on the 1985 novel "My Love, My Love"; or, "The Peasant Girl" by Rosa Guy.
The story concerns a peasant girl on a tropical island, Ti Moune (played by Emily Shar), who rescues, then falls in love with, a wealthy boy from "the other side of the island," Daniel (played by Sasha Davis) and uses the power of love to bring together people of different social classes.
Also featured among this cast of 26 actors and actresses are Ashlynn Kufleitner, Carter Romine, Emma Kelly, and Bethany Kholos as "Asaka" (Mother of the Earth), "Agwe" (god of water), "Erzulie" (goddess of love), and "Papa Ge" (demon of death), respectively. Tori Mollenkopf of East Palestine plays "Mama Euralie," Evan Shobel is "Tonton Julian" and Ryan Stewart portrays "Daniel's Father."
In addition, cast member Tierra Moore has choreographed and rehearsed the dance numbers for the show, and is also a student of dance at SCT's Performing Arts Program.
With almost non-stop song and dance, the show's Caribbean-flavored music will delight audiences of all ages with its irresistible rhythms and catchy melodies, and the predominant theme of love's power to triumph over prejudice and hatred provides a warming experience for everyone.
One can even sense elements of "Romeo and Juliet" and "The Little Mermaid" in the plot line. The original Broadway production of "Once on This Island" garnered eight Tony nominations, including Best Musical, Book and Score in 1991.
SCT's family-oriented production of "Once on This Island, Jr." is being directed by Elizabeth Britton. Allison Oyster is the music director. Both have participated in many previous youth and adult SCT productions as directors, actors, musicians and technical staff. Britton received a bachelor's of arts degree in theater at Susquehanna University and has been involved in productions regionally at the Youngstown Playhouse, New Castle Playhouse, and Bloomsburg (Pa.) Theatre Ensemble.
Oyster is currently in pursuit of her master's degree in piano performance at Youngstown State University, and has also served as musical director for productions at the Carnation City Players in Alliance and several school productions throughout the area.
Performances are Friday and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., Feb. 28 through March 9. Reserved seating tickets are available now by calling 330-332-9688. Ticket prices are $14 for adults, $10 for senior adults (age 62 and up) and $8 for students.
A special outreach performance for school students is planned at 10 a.m. March 5.
Salem Community Theatre, now in its 37th season, enjoys a long and distinguished history of providing quality live performances, as well as instruction in the theater arts, and a number of community outreach programs. The theater is located at 490 E. State St. For more information visit the theater's website at salemcommunitytheatre.org or on Facebook.
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