Thursday, January 30, 2020
Review of Once On This Island (Broadway in Chicago)
I don't feel like the songs in this musical are made to be remembered individually. I feel like all the songs together make an intriguing story that is great to listen to. The songs convey the atmosphere so well; they convey the love that is on this island. I hardly ever felt the song was changing to another song; I just was following the story and taking in the music as a vessel for it. A few of the songs that stood out to me the most were "Waiting for Life," "Rain," and "Mama Will Provide." They moved from telling an overall story to being character driven. "Waiting for Life" is one of the best what-I-want songs I've heard. It is so specific to exactly what Ti Moune wants, and I feel like it fits her personality very well. It trampolines her into the rest of her life because all she wants is to get in a car and drive away and feel free and fall in love. But once she starts to fall in love she realizes it is not freedom at all because there are sacrifices she feels obligated to make because of her devotion.
I think the song "Rain" is a lot more character-driven than it may at first appear because it is
the water god Agwe (Jahmaul Bakare) trying to prove his point that love is stronger than death. It isn't about him, which is unusual for a god because when I think of gods I think of entities who think they are better than everyone else. I think it is interesting that this god's first song is motivated by his own gain but is focused on other people as well and how people relate to each other. These gods are very fixated on one person, Ti Moune, and have actually grown to care about her. "Mama Will Provide" shows that very clearly. Asaka (Kyle Ramar Freeman), mother earth, sings to Ti Moune about how she wants her to succeed while the islanders and other gods dance around her. I thought it was a really nice way of showing how the gods, except for death demon Papa Ge (Tamyra Gray), that is, Agwe, Asaka, and Erzulie (Cassondra James) care about Ti Moune and all know their place in the world and the limits of their power and how they work together to make life. Death is shown not only as a cruel ending, but something that can lead to beautiful things like the story. I think Papa Ge realizes that the gods care about Ti Moune and instead of being a demon of death, Papa Ge become more like the gods. Death's importance is not the aspect of cruelty but the aspect of endings bringing new beginnings. Death is an important part of life, and our lives would be very different if it didn't exist. I think it is an interesting way to portray death, showing it in the traditional scary light and then, through character development, showing it as a natural, beautiful part of life.
People who would like this show are people who like beautiful storytelling through music, talented performers, and demon character development. I think this is a mesmerizing show. It has so many interesting elements--dance, music, storytelling, costume, and set--that made the island seem magical and real. It made me think a lot and I also enjoyed it. I had a blast and it made me feel more intensely than I expected.
Photos: Joan Marcus
Posted by Ada & Mom at 9:01 PM