Theater department ends semester with ‘Once on This Island’

The cast from the CSUN Department of Theatre perform scenes of the play “Once on This Island” at CSUN in Northridge, Calif., on Dec. 4, 2022.

Natalie Lopez, Reporter

CSUN’s Department of Theatre put on “Once on This Island” for their final fall production of the 2022 school year, directed by Christine Menzies and musical direction by Christopher Moscatiello. This musical follows the journey of Ti Moune. This orphaned peasant embarks on a journey to discover her love but is met with prejudice and rejection due to her skin color and socioeconomic status.

The story follows the life of the protagonist Ti Moune, a French Antilles peasant girl who seeks her purpose after being saved by the gods after a disastrous flood almost kills her. Ti Moune is found by two peasants that adopt her and care for her. Ti Moune later saves the life of a wealthy French man and makes a deal with a god to save his life. The musical features themes of race and highlights the struggles that many people living in poverty face.

A highlight of this production was the incredible ensemble that brought the characters to life and brought a fresh perspective to this script. The lead actress Jordyn Taylor brought Ti Moune to life by conveying the character’s emotions and illustrating the lack of inhibitions and self-doubt her character had with her body language.

Many supporting characters also stood out among the cast, as many actors played several roles within the show but avoided confusion among the audience by portraying each character with unique characteristics. Omari Miller as Agwe was another standout of the show, as his voice and animated expressions brought comedic relief and a roar of applause from the audience. The whole cast worked to provide a final show for this 2022 year that would be remembered for years.

The cast from the CSUN Department of Theatre perform scenes of the play “Once on This Island” at CSUN in Northridge, Calif., on Dec. 4, 2022. (Brandon Balayan)

The lighting technicians managed to convey an array of emotions and set the tone for the musical. The lighting alone was a character in the show, as the colors portrayed on the stage symbolized the characters’ feelings and provided the audience with cues that indicated Ti Moune’s inner conflict.

Moreover, the costumes for the show were also noteworthy due to their vibrant and free-flowing nature. The wardrobe for the four gods Papa Ge, Agwe, Asaka and Erzulie were spectacular and depicted their grandeur and splendor. The incorporation of lights and bright colors into the costumes also added to the spectacle, as the god of water wore a gorgeous cerulean blue embroidered with bright lights to highlight his spear-shaped wave.

The audience was enthusiastic about this performance and engaged with the script throughout. Songs and concluding acts were met with a round of applause, and following the production the cast and crew received a standing ovation.

Gary Coleman, a member of the CSUN community and resident of the area, described the musical as “electric and a beautiful representation of diversity and storytelling. I am proud of the CSUN theater department that produced and chose this performance.”