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Wednesday, July 18, 2007 08:47 am

Temptation Island

Age-old love story opens at Theatre in the Park

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Untitled Document I have a hunch that one of the highlights of the area’s summer theater will be the rarely seen musical Once on This Island, which opens Friday, July 20, at New Salem’s Theatre in the Park. The 1990 Broadway musical is directed by Daniel J. Bonnett, a Springfield native who now lives in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. This show has become quite a favorite among lovers of musical theater, especially fans of its creators, Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, whose better-known works include Ragtime, My Favorite Year, and Seussical. Once on This Island, the age-old story of young lovers dealing with class differences, is set on an island in the Caribbean. Based on My Love, My Love, a 1985 novel by Rosa Guy, Once on This Island tells the story of Ti Moune, a young orphan living among an island’s peasants. Divine intervention brings Ti Moune together with Daniel, a young aristocrat from the other side of the island, whose life Ti Moune saves after a car crash. The show has elements of The Little Mermaid and Romeo and Juliet. It’s such a beautiful story, with one great song after another, it’s no wonder that it has a cult following. The original Broadway production ran 469 performances and starred LaChanze, who went on to play the role of Celie in the musical The Color Purple. Lindsey Aeriel Grimble plays the role here, and Layne Roate plays Daniel. Grimble, who recently graduated from the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City, has been seen in many area productions, including Big River and the recent Miss Saigon at the Muni. Bonnett received his master’s degree in directing from Roosevelt University in Chicago and has a degree in vocal-music education from Millikin University. His professional work includes South Florida productions of Closer Than Ever, Blood Brothers, La Cage aux Folles, and Forever Plaid. He has also performed in The Rocky Horror Show, A Christmas Carol, Angels in America, The Baltimore Waltz, Jeffrey, Steppin’ Out, and Little Shop of Horrors. Showtime at Theatre in the Park is 8 p.m. (with preshow entertainment inside the visitors’ center at 7 p.m.). Call 217-632-5440 for tickets. Once on This Island runs through Sunday, July 29. Among other shows of note: • A performance reading of Yasmina Reza’s worldwide hit comedy Art, featuring Gus Gordon, Kevin Purcell, and David Shaw, will be presented by Over the Moon Productions at 2 p.m. Saturday, July 21, at Williamsville State Bank, 3341 Old Jacksonville Rd. Reservations are not required; a donation of $10 is suggested. Call 217-523-0315 for information. • The world premiere of a musical is coming: The Jacksonville Theatre Guild stages David: You and I at the Sophie Leschin Theatre Aug. 2-5 and 9-12. Writer Ken Bradbury has taken the familiar Old Testament story of King David and tells it in an entirely new way. The music and lyrics, by Roger Wainwright of Chatham, cover a wide variety of styles, including jazz, blues, rock & roll, and gospel. Bradbury has a way of bringing an audience into his storytelling and showmanship, and in this musical you will see singing sheep, gangsters, a witch, a cricket match, a circus, a war, and, of course, lots of song and dance. Call 217-245-1402 for tickets. • Carly Shank’s production of Grease is a big hit at the Muni Opera, where it runs through July 22. Boasting a cast of high-energy young performers, it is the fun show of the summer, performed on a big jukebox set. Don’t miss it! For tickets, call 217-793-6864.
Contact Phil Funkenbusch at Phil.Funkenbusch@Illinois.gov.
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