With its catchy Caribbean-flavored music and vibrant costumes, the Chattanooga Theatre Centre's upcoming Youth Theatre production of "Once on This Island, Jr." will conjure tropical sunsets and ocean breezes when the calypso folk tale opens Saturday, Feb. 2. The musical will continue through Sunday, Feb. 10.
Adapted for young audiences from the Broadway musical, the CTC production of "Once on This Island, Jr." features a multicultural cast of 30 young people under the direction of Youth Theatre Director R. Scott Dunlap.
Through almost nonstop song and dance, this musical tells the story of Ti Moune, a peasant girl who rescues and falls in love with Daniel, a wealthy boy from the French-descended dwellers on the other side of her island.
When Daniel is returned to his people, the gods who rule the island guide Ti Moune on a quest that will test the strength of her love against the powerful forces of prejudice, hatred and even death.
Like the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale "The Little Mermaid" on which it is based, the story's young lovers live in two different worlds. The tale is as timely as ever though as it follows Ti Moune, who is orphaned and alone following a massive storm. When she falls in love with Daniel, "Once on This Island, Jr." brings themes of race and class into the story.
In the Theatre Centre production, creative movement will draw upon the audiences' imaginations, calling upon performers to portray trees, wild animals and even a fierce rainstorm. The production's guest musical director is Neshawn Bynum Calloway, and guest choreographer is Marie Dance.
Youth Theatre newcomer MaKenzie Ballard appears in the leading role of Ti Moune. Also featured are Kevin Bennett, Hannah Carter, Zoe Chatman, Mason Chattin-Carter, Vivika Cheemakoti, Ava Culpepper, J.A. Heard, Levi Jones, Tessa Kelly, Ian Parten, Genna Rayborn, Jaelyn Sanders and Karielle Sutton.
The ensemble includes Macy Barry, Melayna Buttry, Hayley Lewis, Annabelle Major, Taylor Mitchell, Christiana Russell, Eben Shriner, Emma Tuttle and Molly Watts. The children's ensemble is comprised of Finley Burnette, William Hall, Paul Knotts, Alex Lloyd, Izzi Mathew, Acadia Phillips and Larkin Smith.
Performances are scheduled at 2:30 p.m. on Feb. 2-3 and 9-10. School performances are scheduled during the week of Feb. 4. The show is appropriate for third-grade students and older.
Tickets are $10. They are available at the CTC box office, 400 River St., by calling 423-267-8534 or online at TheatreCentre.com.