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Once on This Island captivates TPAC’s audience with stunning sets and choreography

While Nashville transitions into a colder, darker season, the Tennessee Performing Arts Center is heating things up with its transformation into an island in the French Antilles.

Focused on an orphan from an island in Africa named Ti Moune, Once on This Island provides a commentary on racial and socioeconomic prejudice.

The show is open to all, but Belmont students have the opportunity to witness this Tony Award-winning revival directed by Michael Arden this week at TPAC’s Andrew Jackson Hall at a special discount.

From the first step into the theater, the set captivated the audience’s attention. The vibrant energy it brought to the room allowed for a preview of what was to come.

At first, the set appeared loud and confusing, but the longer the audience looked, the more they saw. A rowboat, which was the centerpiece of both the set and the plotline, was the first thing that draws the eye of the crowd. Each detail surrounding it contributed to the story and told of the characters’ circumstances. Because part of the audience was sitting on the stage, there wasn’t much room for movement, but that didn’t hinder the performance at all.

The costumes and set design showcased the intentionality of the performance’s crew, creating a cohesive foundation for the story to build upon. Ti Moune, played by Courtnee Carter was the only character wearing a simple costume of one color: a brilliant red. This made Ti Moune stand out amidst the earth-toned costumes of the other characters. Wearing a simple red dress signified the theme of love that her character embodied.

The story was primarily told through song and dance with upbeat fun that kept the narrative moving. The dancing — a traditional African style — excited the audience to the point that nobody could keep still. Choreographer Camille A. Brown and associate choreographer Rickey Tripp ensured that the movement and dances had a purpose.

Movements often felt like magic tricks. While focus was drawn to one part of the stage, most audience members failed to notice other characters make their way to an entirely new place. Being tricked by these movements brought on a sense of childlike amusement for the audience.

If you are looking to experience something magical and tropical as Nashville grows colder, head over to TPAC this week to make sure you don’t miss this incredible show. Use the code “BRUINS” on for a discount on tickets. 

This article written by Noelle Westel. Photo courtesy of TPAC.

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