Island tour

Tamyra Gray Reflects On Opening ONCE ON THIS ISLAND Tour In Nashville This Week


For viewers who have seen Once on this island During her recent Tony Award-winning Broadway revival, actress Tamyra Gray has some advice for the show’s national tour, which kicks off tonight at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center in Nashville: “There’s a new setup “, she explains. “Since we’ve been out of the round, our set has been restructured and it’s really, really cool: it’s like you walked into this village and watched the events unfold.”

These events begin to unfold as soon as the doors of Andrew Jackson Hall open, she says, instantly immersing audiences in the story told and the world created by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty in the musical, based on Rosa Guy’s 1985 novel. My Love, My Love; or, The Peasant Woman. Located in the French West Indies in the Caribbean, Once on this island focuses on Ti Moune, who manages to bring people of different social classes together through the enduring power of love and redemption.

The national tour will feature onstage seating for select audience members to create “a unique experience within the footprint of each theater we play…audiences will be invited to put their feet in the sand and surround our company, being part of the show”, promise the producers.

And while the live animals, which played such a big part in the revival, probably won’t be included on the tour, “there’s always water, fire and sand” to give audiences the same feeling. than the Broadway production.

Playing Papa Ge – who is described as “the devious demon of death who is the main antagonist of the series” – on tour allows Gray to continue in the role she first tried out on Broadway (she took over from Merle Dandridge in the role) and immersing himself in the character: “I know Pape Ge”, Gray assumes.

Once on this island“I feel like Papa Ge is a character I’ve waited my whole life to play,” she says. “Every story has some kind of painful beginning and so I don’t play bad just for bad.” Instead, she follows Papa Ge’s dramatic arc from her debut as a “creepy demon who can’t find life.” [Papa Ge tricks Ti Moune into giving her life for that of another] at the show’s conclusion in which Papa Ge is redeemed and Ti Moune’s sacrifices earn their ultimate reward.

“At the end of the show, Ti Moune believes again and has hope,” suggests Gray. “It’s a great reminder that we are all responsible for the choice we make and that it is our responsibility to lift each other up and rebuild ourselves in the face of great devastation.”

Located on an island in the aftermath of a major storm, Once on this island tells the story of Ti Moune as a way to guide the islanders (of which the audience is a part) through the devastation and to reclaim what has been lost. In the process, the islanders prove resourceful and resilient, using found objects to create beauty, using their imaginations to recover from the devastation that was wrought before the show even began.

“When you walk into the theater, the show has already started,” says Gray. “You watch how this community goes about their daily lives; everyone comes out to reassess and see how they’re going to rebuild their lives after the storm.”

Going on tour with the production so soon after it closed on Broadway (it closed last January), will allow the company to tell the story and bring it to an audience that hasn’t had the opportunity to see many theatrical works taking place in the Caribbean: “There’s all this energy and it’s going to be great to share that with the public,” she says. “It will be great to see how people see themselves in the story, to see their problems while having the freedom to find their way in the dark.”

Playing the central role of Papa Ge “challenges you and opens you up,” Gray says. “You take on this emotional roller coaster that you actually share with people. It gives voice to so many things that so many people cling to in secret – like not having the right words to express what they’re going through.”

Accordingly, Gray’s work in Once on this island is “very revealing: every day I rediscover love and hope. It gives me courage – it’s life reflected in art.”

About Tamyra Gray (Dad Ge) was last seen as part of the star cast of In the woods at the Hollywood Bowl. She recently starred on Broadway as Papa Ge in the Tony Award-winning revival of Once on this island. On stage, Tamyra made her Broadway debut as the lead in Bombay Dreamswas praised for her lead role on Broadway as Mimi in To rent and played Kate in the first national tour of If so. In 2011, she starred in Debbie Allen’s Turn at the Pasadena Playhouse for which she won a Beverly Hills/Hollywood NAACP Theater Award. Following her acclaimed appearance on american idol, Tamyra appeared on television in Boston audience, half and half, all of us, what I like about you, Las Vegas and True Calling. Big screen credits include Sony feature Gospel music and Rachel is getting married. Tamyra co-wrote “You Thought Wrong” for Grammy winner Kelly Clarkson and the #1 Billboard Hot 100 single “I Believe” for Fantasia.

Once on this islandAbout Once on This Island Winner of the award for Best Revival of a Musical 2018, Once on this island will officially open their nationwide tour in Music City with a week-long engagement October 15-20 at Jackson Hall at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center. Written by Tony Award-winning team Lynn Ahrens (book and lyrics) and Stephen Flaherty (music), Once on this island is based on the novel “My Love, My Love” by Rosa Guy. This production features new orchestrations by original orchestrator Michael Starobin, who is joined by AnnMarie Milazzo.

Once on this island is the radical and universal story of Ti Moune, an intrepid peasant woman in search of her place in the world and ready to risk everything for love. Guided by the powerful gods of the island, Ti Moune embarks on a remarkable journey to find the man who won her heart.

This new production is directed by director Michael Arden, twice nominated for the Tony Awards (spring awakening revival) and acclaimed choreographer Camille A. Brown (NBC’s jesus christ superstar live). The creative team also includes Dane Laffrey (scenic designer), Clint Ramos (costume designer), Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer (lighting designers), Peter Hylenski (sound designer), John Bertles/Bash the Trash (unusual instruments) , Cookie Jordan (hairstylist/wig and makeup artist), Chris Fenwick (music supervisor), Alvin Hough, Jr. (music director), David Perlow (associate director), Nikki M. James (assistant director), Rickey Tripp (associate choreographer) and Telsey + Co / Craig Burns, CSA (casting agent).

Once on this island premiered at Playwrights Horizons in May 1990. The Broadway production opened in October of that year and earned eight Tony nominations, including Best Featured Actress (LaChanze), Best Original Score, Best Book a musical and the best musical. The 1994 West End production won the Olivier Award for Best New Musical. The revival opened in December 2017 at the Circle in the Square Theater and garnered nine Tony nominations by winning Best Revival of a Musical. The touring production of the Tony-winning revival was built, developed and launched at the Carson Center in Paducah, Kentucky.

PHOTOS OF Joan Marcus