By MIKE CHAIKEN
Two different worlds come together when two young people fall in love in the stage musical “Once On This Island.”
This weekend and next, these two worlds will be brought to life by Connecticut Theatre Company when it performs the musical by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty.
Press materials from CTC explain: “The show is a Caribbean adaptation of ‘The Little Mermaid’ and tells the story of a young peasant girl who falls in love with a wealthy boy from the other side of the island. The young girl isn’t aware that the gods of the island have made a bet on which is stronger, love or death. Set in Haiti, the show explores the true to life themes of class separation and cultural traditions.”
“What I like about this show with everything that’s going on in today’s world, there’ s so much violence, there’s so much hate, it really reminds you to just love,” said Tiffany Vinters of Bloomfield, who has the role of one of the young lovers, Ti Moune.
Zach Cote of Bristol, who plays the other young lover Daniel, said, “It’s timeless. It’s relevant. All the time, it can be relevant.”
“It’s very relevant,” echoed Gia Wright of Plainville, who plays one of the gods who guides Ti Moune and Daniel. “It’s very heartwarming. It’s almost real life… (These things) happen. You fall in love with people. You can’t choose. It’s interesting to see how it plays out.”
Steffon Sampson of Southington, who plays Ti Moune’s adopted father, said, “I love the emotional factor of (the show). It’s definitely a story where… there’s so much being told where you can feel it from different directions.”
Since the show was first staged in 1990, “Once On This Island” has been performed by both community theaters and in school productions.
Tiffany said the show has proven to be popular because “it’s so timeless.” She saw the show for the first time in fifth grade and still loves it. “There’s always going to be a reason to tell it. There’s always going to be a reason to remind each other to love one another and spread love.”
“It represents feelings that at some point everyone has had,” said Gia. “Everyone can relate to some character having to make difficult decisions such as being in love. How do you deal with that? What if it doesn’t work out? How do you deal with that?”
As for the music, Gia said she likes that “it takes you to another place… It’s very tropical. You feel you’re on an island.”
“The music’s great,” said Steffon. “It portrays a picture… Yes, there are words but you can hear the picture in the music. You can see the music. You can feel it in the music.”
“The music is incredible,” said Zach. “It’s very island themed, which is different (from most shows that take a pop or classical direction).”
Gia said she likes how CTC has approached the production of “Once On This Island.” She explained, “They did a good job at being able to transport (the story) and make it feel like a larger than life show.”
“This theater in general always goes above and beyond to express themselves,” said Seffon.
“I can really see the work that went into it,” said Tiffany.
And noting that the show is a favorite of CTC organizers Duane and Erin Campbell, Zach said you can really see their love for “Once On This Island” in this production.
“Once On This Island” runs now through July 10 at Connecticut Theatre Company. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. through July 10 at the Repertory Theatre at 23 Norden St., New Britain. Additional information and tickets are available online at www.connecticuttheatrecompany.org.