Saturday, April 17, 2004

La Salle transforms gym into Caribbean island

La Salle High School's recent production of Once on This Island brought all the color and music of the Caribbean to Cincinnati.

The Greater Cincinnati chapter of Cappies, or Critics and Awards Program, is in its third season, with students writing reviews of other high schools' productions. Today, La Salle High School's "Once on this Island." For more information and show schedules, see
"Storytellers step into different roles as the story builds. The opening song "We Dance" incorporated all 76 members of the ensemble. The number drew the audience into the mythical world of the Beaux Hommes, the wealthy owners of the island, and the peasants, who are more in tune to the native gods.

Ti Moune (Cora Moore), a peasant girl, falls in love with Daniel (Alex Butscha), the son of a wealthy landowner. As their impossible love grows, they are forced to challenge family, society and even the power of the gods.

Moore played a na‘ve innocent who allowed her heart to guide her. Moore's gorgeous voice evoked the simple innocence of a child.

Agwe (Dusty Wolf), the god of water; Asaka (Maria Aielli) , the goddess of the earth; Papa Ge (Jerome Doerger), the god of death; and Erzulie (Susie Metz , the goddess of love, presided over the lives of the mortals.

Cora Moore plays Ti Moune and Alex Butscha plays Daniel in Once on This Island.
(Ernest Coleman photo)
Metz used gentle facial expressions to encourage the young lovers. Her fluid, maternal movement was countered by the bombastic Papa Ge. As the god of death, Doerger was constantly shifting his eyes and smugly sneering, creating a diabolical character with a powerful voice.

The production was completely student-driven with student directors Jake Eagle, Bryan Weigel and Andy Schoenling taking on the challenge. The choreography created by students Ashley Austin and Doerger, captured the Caribbean flavor.

Dan White organized the set construction, bringing the beaches, huts and mansions of the French Antilles into the La Salle gym. The tech crew, directed by Brian Ante and Ben Bedinghaus, created fire balls and flashing skulls for Papa Ge's entrance and a massive volcano. The lighting crew brought to life the beautiful glow of a Caribbean beach.

Matt Borths,

St. Xavier High School

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