Tuesday, August 15, 2017

BROADWAY PRODUCTION OF 'ONCE ON THIS ISLAND'

Merle Dandridge




Producers Ken Davenport and Hunter Arnold announced that Tony Award winner Lea Salonga, Alex Newell (“Glee”), Merle Dandridge (“Greenleaf”), and Quentin Earl Darrington (Cats) will join the cast of the new Broadway production of Once On This Island, which will play the Circle in the Square Theatre (235 W. 50th street, NYC) this fall.



Dandridge will play Papa Ge, Darrington will play Agwe, Newell will play Asaka, and Salonga will play Erzulie.



The revival of the Olivier Award-winning and Tony Award-nominated Best Musical will be directed by Tony nominee Michael Arden, and choreographed by the critically-acclaimed Camille A. Brown. The production will begin preview performances on Thursday, November 9, 2017 and officially open on Sunday, December 3.



Director Michael Arden said, “In casting the Gods that inhabit our island, it became imperative for me to break expectations and stretch beyond the bounds in which Gods are traditionally represented. It felt important that young people watching our production see themselves reflected back from the stage at them. The Gods are simply that: Gods. They are not bound by gender, race, sexuality or being human at all. I'm so very pleased to be collaborating with these four artists exploring the important and timely themes of this musical through their unique and incredible abilities.”



Dandridge, Darrington, Newell and Salonga will join the previously announced Phillip Boykin (Tonton Julian), Alysha Deslorieux (Andrea), David Jennings (Armand), Kenita R. Miller (Mama Euralie), and Isaac Powell (Daniel). The Storytellers for this production are Darlesia Cearcy, Rodrick Covington, Cassondra James, David Jennings, Grasan Kingsberry, Tyler Hardwick, Loren Lott, T. Oliver Reid, and Aurelia Williams.



Additional casting will be announced at a later date. 



Once On This Island is written by the Tony Award-winning team of Lynn Ahrens (Book and Lyrics) and Stephen Flaherty (Music), and based on the novel “My Love, My Love” by Rosa Guy. This production will feature new orchestrations by original orchestrator Michael Starobin who is joined by AnnMarie Milazzo.



The creative team also includes Dane Laffrey (Scenic Design), Clint Ramos (Costume Design), Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer (Lighting Designers), Peter Hylenski (Sound Designer), Chris Fenwick (Music Supervisor), Alvin Hough, Jr (Music Director), David Perlow (Associate Director), Nikki M. James (Assistant Director), and Telsey + Co / Craig Burns, CSA (Casting Agent).



Additional producers include Carl Daikeler, Richard Hopper & WitzEnd Productions. The associate producers are Kayla Greenspan and Valerie Novakoff.



Once On This Island is the Broadway musical celebration that sweeps us across the sea to a small village—where, in the aftermath of a great storm, a joyous new life begins. It is the tale of Ti Moune, a fearless peasant girl who falls in love with a wealthy boy from the other side of the island. When their divided cultures threaten to keep them apart, Ti Moune, guided by the island gods, sets out on a remarkable quest to reunite with the man who has captured her heart.



Bursting with Caribbean colors, rhythms and dance, the story comes to vibrant life through the score by Tony Award® winners Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens (Anastasia, Ragtime). The striking production by Tony Award-nominated director Michael Arden (Spring Awakening revival) transforms the reality of a tropical village devastated by a storm into a fantastical world alive with hope.



Tickets for Once On This Island are on sale through Telecharge. Group tickets are available at www.YourBroadwayGenius.com or by calling 855-329-2932.



Once On This Island premiered at Playwrights Horizons in May of 1990. The Broadway production opened in October of that year and ran for 469 performances garnering eight Tony nominations including Best Featured Actress (LaChanze), Best Original Score, Best Book of a Musical and Best Musical. The 1994 West End production won the Olivier Award for Best New Musical.




BIOGRAPHIES




MERLE DANDRIDGE (Papa Ge) is honored to return to the Broadway boards to tell one of her favorite stories: Love always wins. She currently stars in the Oprah Winfrey/Lionsgate produced television show “Greenleaf” as Grace Greenleaf which is soon heading into its third season. She has previously been seen on Broadway in Spamalot (Lady of the Lake), Rent (Joanne), Aida (Aida), Tarzan (Kala) and Jesus Christ Superstar (Soul Girl, Disciple, Mary u/s). She has toured the U.S. and Europe six times, played The Hollywood Bowl and Royal Albert Hall and been featured in several regional theatre productions including multiple stints at The Geffen Playhouse and Pasadena Playhouse. Merle’s recurring television roles include Gwen Gaskin in NBC’s “Night Shift”, Vega in CW’s “Star-Crossed” and Rita Roosevelt in FX’s “Sons of Anarchy. Among her video game characters are her BAFTA-winning turn as Katherine Collins in “Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture,”, her award-winning portrayals as Marlene in “The Last of Us,” and Alyx Vance in “Half Life 2,” “DOTA 2” and “Unchartered 4.” For Mark Ford.




QUENTIN EARL DARRINGTON (Agwe). What a blessing to join the Once On This Island family! Broadway: Cats, Ragtime. Off-Broadway: The Secret Garden, Lincoln Center; A New Brain, NY City Center; Lost In the Stars, NY City Center; The Roar of the Greasepaint…, York Theatre Company. National Tours: Memphis, The Color Purple, The Lion King, Ragtime. Regional: Les Miserables, Drury Lane Theatre; Nicholas Nickleby, Orlando Shakes; Tarzan, the MUNY; Gee's Bend, Cincinnati Playhouse; I Dream, Alliance Theatre; A Little Night Music, Sacramento Music Circus; Jacques Brel…, Straz PAC. Bert Williams, Paul Robeson, Louie Armstrong, and Sammy Davis Jr. is why... "we tell the story!”




ALEX NEWELL (Asaka) is more than thrilled to be making his Broadway debut! Alex is best known for playing Wade "Unique" Adams, a transgender student on FOX’s “Glee.” Although the stage is where it all began, some of his favorite roles include Hairspray (Motormouth Maybelle), Cinderella (Fairy Godmother), Saturday Night Fever (Candy). Alex is also a recording artist with Atlantic Records where he’s released songs with Clean Bandit (“Stronger”), Blonde (“All Cried Out”) and The Knocks (“Collect my Love”). All available now along with his debut EP entitled Power, and new single “Keep It Moving.” Also Kill the Lights (Nile Rogers and DJ Cassidy) which was featured on HBO’s “Vinyl.” Website: TheAlexNewell.com Twitter and Instagram @TheAlexNewell.





LEA SALONGA (Erzulie). Broadway: Kim in Miss Saigon (Tony, Olivier, Drama Desk and OCC Awards), Allegiance, Les Miserables, Flower Drum Song. International: Fun Home, Cats, Cinderella, God of Carnage. Film/TV: singing voices of Jasmine in Aladdin and Fa Mulan in Mulan, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” Les Miserables for PBS (10th and 25th Anniversary concerts), “Hey, Mr. Producer.” As a concert artist Lea has toured globally, performing in some of the world’s most iconic concert venues and in 2017 broke the record for the most consecutive performances at Feinstein’s/54 Below with her acclaimed show Blurred Lines, also an album. www.leasalonga.com.




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