Students at the Provincetown Schools wrapped up their theater season last weekend with sold-out performances of Once Upon This Island, Jr. The musical is an adaptation of the show that opened on Broadway in 1990 and had a hit revival in 2017, with lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and music by Steven Flaherty.
Theater teacher and music director Megan Amorese said the students in her middle school music elective chose the show. “I believe the music and the story spoke to them,” she said. “The show taps into the rich cultural heritage of the Caribbean.” It explores social conflict and also gave students “so much opportunity to express themselves and their cultures — particularly through dance.”
Based on the novel My Love, My Love by Rosa Guy, it is a coming-of-age story that takes place on a tropical island. In it, Ti Moune, played by Shakira Brooker, is a girl from a poor family who falls in love with Daniel, a boy from a rich one, played by Ragime Patterson, and discovers her inner strengths confronting the boundaries that divide her community.
Amorese invited a photographer to the dress rehearsals, which are not about the costumes, she said. “The reason we have dress rehearsals is to rehearse having an audience,” she said. “It changes so much to have applause and laughter.”
The students performed two matinee previews, one especially for Truro students and another the next day for Provincetown students. “That’s the hardest show for the kids,” said Amorese. The students get nervous about performing for their friends, she said.
When the time came for the Friday and Saturday shows at Fishermen Hall, “We packed the house both nights,” said Amorese. “Our audiences were so supportive and enthusiastic.”
Amorese sees the theater program as part of how the school helps students “find their unique ways of being successful. The pride the students feel afterwards is why I do what I do.”
One student put it this way after the show: “It feels so good to be great at something.” —Teresa Parker