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Local News

Small Town Theatrics hits the stage in Coal City with "Once on this Island"

Small Town Theatrics hits the stage in Coal City

In celebration of its 10th season, Small Town Theatrics will present its first semi-staged concert featuring the Tony Award nominated score of "Once On This Island."

The one-act musical based on the Rosa Guy novel "My Love, My Love; or, The Peasant Girl" tells the story of a peasant girl who brings people of different social classes together using the power of love.

Saved by the gods from a disastrous flood that washes across her Caribbean island, a young peasant-orphan girl who comes to be know as Ti Moune is adopted by a couple who finds her in a tree.

Drew Simone Betts-Voss, 8, of Shorewood, will make her Small Town Theatrics debut as Little TiMoune, and her cousin, Shebi Voss will portray a grown-up Ti Moune. The elder Voss, also of Shorewood, first performed with the theatre company in its 2018 production of "Newsies."

In the roles of Ti Moune's adoptive parents, Mama Euralie and Tonton Julian are Small Town alumni Danielle Porterfield and Wyatt Onsen, both of Coal City.

The 20-member cast is full of talent with individuals who have performed in numerous school, community and regional productions, as well as theatre directors and vocal and instrumental musicians. Combining their voices, the cast tells the story of Ti Moune's prayers to the gods as she searches for her purpose and the legacy she leaves for generations that follow.

From the opening number, "We Dance," to the closing song, "Why We Tell the Story," audience members will be taken in by the lyrics and the voices delivering them.

The production is directed by Jack Micetich with vocal direction by Shanan D'Agostino.

Appearing as gods are Caleb Swick, of Wilmington, in the role of Papa Ge the demon of death; James Reinbacher, of Braidwood, as Agwe the god of water; Rebecca Rouston, of Kankakee, as Asaka mother of the earth and Dana Eisnach, of Braceville, in the role of Erzulie the goddess of love. Preston Johnson, of Coal City, will take the stage as Ti Moune's love interest Daniel Beauxhomme; Hannah Babyak, of Shorewood, assumes the role of Andrea, Daniel's promised wife and Kyle Cassady, of Bourbonnais, appears as Armand.

Bringing the story together are the storytellers played by Paula Peacock, Riley Nevin, Josh Lacy, Brittany Freelon, DeKotah Reuger, Gabe Ludes, Jimmy Soto, Hailey Kasky and Deena Cassady.

"Once On This Island" will be presented Saturday, June 29 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, June 30 at 2 p.m. in the Coal City Performing ArtsCenter, 655 W. Division St., Coal City.

Reserved seat tickets are $10 per person and can be purchased by visiting www.smalltowntheatrics.org.

Small Town Theatrics was established in 2010 to provide individuals in small towns with opportunities to showcase their talents, while exposing them to the diversity of the performing arts.

To date, the theatre company has produced eight musicals that have provided opportunities for more than 175-cast and crew members to showcase their talents on stage and behind the scenes. These individuals represent more than 15 communities in six counties — Grundy, Will, Livingston, Kankakee, Kendall and Kane.

In addition to "Once On This Island," Small Town Theatrics will present a main stage show, "Hairspray," July 25-28 and tickets can also be reserved through the organization's website.

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