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Once On This Island

Detail from original Broadway Playbill

Book and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens Music by Stephen Flaherty: Based upon the novel My Love, My Love by Rosa Guy

Friday Playwrights Horizons (Off-Broadway) - May 6, 1990 (60 perfs)
Booth Theatre, Broadway - October 18, 1990 (487 perfs)
Royalty Theatre, London - September 28, 1994 (145 perfs)

Once On This Island is a captivating legend of romance between a peasant girl and a rich city boy whom she saves from death. This calypso-flavoured re-telling of The Little Mermaid opens on a Caribbean island where villagers comfort a little girl with the story of the orphan Ti Moune, destined to love too much for the human heart to bear. Staged with minimal props, sets and costumes, Once On This Island delivers melody, love and joy in tropical abundance.

Duration: 90 minutes (one act).

Synopsis s

There is a violent storm raging around the small Caribbean island. A frightened child is being comforted by the storytellers. The island is inhabited by light skinned people who are the rich landowners and the darks skinned people who are the poor peasants who have to scrape for a living. Ti Moune is an orphan girl chosen by the gods for a special fate and saved for a special destiny by Asaka, mother of the Earth.

Now a grown-up, Ti Moune sees the handsome Daniel Beauxhomme passing by in his fine car. In the storm the car crashes and Ti Moune rushes to his rescue. By cheating the Demon of Death, Papa Ge, Ti Moune saves Daniel's life but at a terrible price - her soul. In the past, in the 19th century, Armand, a Frenchman, has a son, the original Beauxhomme. It is he who rises up and expels his father and his compatriots from the island - but he and his future descendants are cursed by Armand.

Ti Moune wants to marry Daniel but Euralie, who raised her, points out the impossibility of this as they are from different social class. Nevertheless, the pair become lovers. As Daniel recovers, he realises his responsibilities; his bride-to-be is the rich Andrea Devereaux and the announcement of their engagement is made at a grand ball.

Papa Ge arrives to claim Ti Moune. It is only by killing Daniel herself that can save her from her part in the Devil's bargain. Of course, she is unable to do the only thing that can save her.

After the wedding of Daniel and Andrea, the newly married couple come to the front of the hotel and throw coins to the peasants. Daniel gives a coin to Ti Moune but she is dying. Her life and untimely death leave a positive ending to the story - the power of love conquers the fear of death.


5 men, 5 women, 1 girl

Ti Moune
Little Ti Moune
Euralie - Ti Moune's adoptive mother
Papa Ge
Erzulie - Goddess of Love

Musical Numbers:

  1. We Dance - Storytellers
  2. One Small Girl - Euralie, Julian, Little Ti Moune & Storytellers
  3. Waiting For Life - Ti Moune, Storytellers
  4. And the Gods Heard Her Prayer - Asaka, Agwe, Papa Ge, Erzulie
  5. Rain - Agwe, Storytellers
  6. Pray - Peasants with Ti Moune, Julian, Euralie, Guard
  7. Forever Yours - Ti Moune and Papa Ge and Daniel
  8. The Sad Tale of the Beauxhommes - Armand, Storytellers
  9. Ti Moune - Euralie & Julian with Ti Moune
  10. Mama Will Provide - Asaka, Agwe & Papa Ge & Storytellers
  11. The Human Heart - Erzulie, Storytellers
  12. Some Girls - Daniel
  13. The Ball - Andrea, Daniel, Ti Moune, Storytellers
  14. When We Are Wed - Andrea with Ti Moune, Daniel and Papa Ge
  15. A Part Of Us - Euralie, Little Ti Moune, Julian and storytellers
  16. Why We Tell This Story - Storytellers with Little Ti Moune


Reed (piccolo/flute/alto flute/clarinet/soprano sax/percussion [finger cymbal]), percussion, guitar (electric/acoustic/classical), piano/keyboard I, keyboard II, double bass db. percussion [claves]


Original Broadway Cast - RCA Victor 60595-2-RC