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High School Musical 'Once on This Island' Dazzles with Premiere Performance

High School Musical 'Once on This Island' Dazzles with Premiere Performance
Tanya Olander

Described as a theater production of many firsts, the high school musical “Once on This Island” wows the audience on premiere night!

Resounding applause filled the auditorium at the end of the premier of the first extracurricular musical since the pandemic. “Incredible!” “ Worth watching over and over again” and “Wow! So professional” were spontaneous initial reactions from the audience after watching the hour-long musical “Once on This Island.”

Long before premier night and even before the extended five-week winter break, many in the ambitious and hardworking 20-student cast showed up at rehearsals knowing the lyrics to several songs.

Some of the Most Dedicated Performers Ever

Early on, director, and HS Drama Teacher Jeff Redman, was surprised to learn that very few of the cast had ever done theater before. He credits the students as some of the most amazing and dedicated performers he’s ever worked with. Outside of their regular schoolwork, many have dedicated themselves to six-hour weekly rehearsals, even practicing on Saturdays and during the break.

Gods Asaka (played by Suyeon, Grade 11) and Agwe (played by Nam, Grade 10) hover near a sleeping Ti Moune (played by Vivian, Grade 11). 

“Theater and the performing arts are a powerful discipline for students to gain confidence, find their voice, and work as part of a team towards a shared goal,” Mr. Redman shares in the opening night theater program, adding, “Whether it is through music, dance, or theater, the performing arts are present in every culture around the world and have been since recorded history. In the dawn of the age of AI, the performing arts remind us of what it means to be human.”

SSIS Production Adds Unique Twist

Building on universal themes like connectedness, choice, family, fate, love, pain, and forgiveness, the musical “Once on This Island” originally debuted in the 1990s. The SSIS premier creatively gave the musical a unique twist, moving the setting from the French Antilles to Vietnam and incorporating Vietnamese-inspired costumes, scenery, and folktales into the production.

Director and HS drama teacher, Jeff Redman watches while choreographer, dance teacher Adele Van De Venter instructs the cast.

The production couldn’t have happened without the many other faculty who supported it with their expertise. HS Music Teacher, Leif Larson, provided voice direction, Dance Teacher Adele Van De Venter made sure students learned the choreography; grade 5 Teacher Jenni Redman managed the production, HS Librarian Amy Coquillard managed props, and MS Counselor Meghan Ricker took care of costumes. 

Student Assistant Director, Betty, shares a page from the program.

Heartfelt Reflections on Heartfelt Production

As anyone fortunate enough to see this amazing production will learn from the program, it is evident what a profound impact this experience has had on each participating student. 

Crew members Phu (G11) and William (G10) work the mixer during a rehearsal.

Jolie (Mama Euralie), Grade 9, shares in the program, “After more than four months of hard work, memorization, and combined efforts, this journey has come to a bittersweet end. I’m incredibly thankful for the teachers who had poured their soul into making this musical happen and my friends/teammates for their endless support of one another. Teamwork makes the dream work!”

The impressive cast and crew gathered with the supporting faculty and talented auditorium support staff.

As the student cast, crew, and the many other faculty who joined in to bring "Once an Island" to life have proven - no one is an island in this production! We couldn't be prouder of our Dragons!

Note: Two performances remain for the SSIS community. Seating is limited to 300 people. Doors open 15 minutes before the show starts. The musical has 14 numbers and is suitable for first grade and up. Don't miss it!

  • Friday, March 17, 6:00 pm, SSIS Auditorium
  • Saturday, March 18, 2:00 pm, SSIS Auditorium

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