Wow! What a gem. What a special musical. Go experience Once on This Island!!!
Entering the Circle in the Square Theatre is always a surprise. Like opening a box of chocolate: You never know what to expect.
For anyone who’s never been to the theater, it’s a circular stage inside a square box with seating all around on all four sides. Hence the name, Circle in the Square. On my last two visits, the space was transformed into the circular and wall-less home of the Bechdels in “Fun Home”, and into a New York City subway car, a subway station, an airplane, among other venues in “In Transit”
Tonight was different though. Very very different.
As we stepped in the theater, the space was transformed from top to bottom. The stage is filled with sand. An open camp fire burnt at the center. The entrance hallway for the cast is filled with water and has become a river. An boat, turned upside down, sat at the bank of the river. A goat jumped off from the boat onto the beach. Food was cooking on a stove a few rows in front of me. Mmm. Delicious! … and all of this was just pre-performance background activities on stage!
As the show opened, a hurricane hit the island. Wind was gusting and howling. There were actual fans blasting air at us, aided by more sound effects from the cast spinning music instruments above their heads. Throughout the show, thunder struck. Rain poured from the sky. Yes, real water came down at us. Sand was peeled away to reveal a grand ballroom complete with chandeliers hanging from the roof lit with candles. Costuming was both authentic yet dramatic. (e.g., Ti Moune’s dress with a long train that draped from the stage all the way to the last row of the theater.) A tree sprout from the earth, and grew to hit the ceiling of the theater.
For 90-minutes, we travelled to the island of Haiti, and became immersed in its culture, its history, its legends, and its way of life. We learnt the story of Ti Moune, about the Gods (Love, Water, Earth, and Death), and about what it means to be part of the Human Heart.