DYPAC offers enchantment with ‘Once on this Island’

Photo by Dr. Noel Jackson. The Downriver Youth Performing Arts Center presents the one-act musical “Once on this Island” at 7 p.m. Aug. 12 and 13, and 2 p.m. Aug. 14, with Justin Hernandez (left), 16, of Wyandotte as Tonton Julian; Juliana Palmer, 16, of Southgate as Ti Moune; Nina Nelson (seated), 14, of Brownstown Township as Little Ti Moune; and Madeline Balavitch, 18, of Wyandotte as Mama Euralie. For tickets or more information, call 734-771-7945 or go to dypac.com.

Photo by Dr. Noel Jackson. The Downriver Youth Performing Arts Center presents the one-act musical “Once on this Island” at 7 p.m. Aug. 12 and 13, and 2 p.m. Aug. 14, with Justin Hernandez (left), 16, of Wyandotte as Tonton Julian; Juliana Palmer, 16, of Southgate as Ti Moune; Nina Nelson (seated), 14, of Brownstown Township as Little Ti Moune; and Madeline Balavitch, 18, of Wyandotte as Mama Euralie. For tickets or more information, call 734-771-7945 or go to dypac.com.

By Sue Suchyta

With a mixture of romance and fairytale magic, the Downriver Youth Performing Arts Center presents the one act musical, “Once on this Island” at 7 p.m. Aug. 12 and 13, and 2 p.m. Aug. 14 at the Trenton Village Theatre, 2447 W. Jefferson.

With book and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and music by Stephen Flaherty, the show, set in the French Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean Sea, is based on the 1985 novel “My Love, My Love; or The Peasant Girl” by Rosa Guy.

The show also blends elements of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” with Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Little Mermaid,” as a tropical island peasant girl harnesses the force of love to unite people of different social standings.

DYPAC administrator Debbie Jackson said the show, appropriate for all ages, is presented with enthusiasm and talent by DYPAC’s teen cast.

“With beautiful music, dancing, and a great message, ‘Once on this Island’ is a fairy tale celebration of love, hope, life and death,” she said, “and is the story of Ti Moune as she travels and grows to learn of love and family.”
Jackson said DYPAC wanted to do the show because of its beautiful music.

“We have some beautiful voices to work well in this show,” she said. “Although we have performed this in the past, this is a new generation of young people to experience its beauty.”
Jackson said she takes pride in providing positive and purposeful activities for teens.

“We take pride in keeping young people engaged,” she said. “It helps create social bonds and develop confidence for the school year ahead.”

Director Mary Zaleski said the show celebrates the life of a girl who finds love in a world of prejudice.

“This young girl uses the power of love to bring together people of different social classes,” she said. “She breaks down the wall that separates two societies and ultimately unites them. What an amazing message for the world to hear.”

Sarah Leonard serves as the musical director, with Molly Zaleski as choreographer.

The cast includes Elizabeth Rutkowski, 16, of Riverview as Andrea; Juliana Palmer, 16, of Southgate as Ti Moune; Kevin Begic, 17, of Taylor as Armand; Gavin Alvedy, 19, of Trenton as Papa Ge; and Wyandotte residents Madeline Balavitch, 18, as Mama Euralie, and Justin Hernandez, 16, as Tonton Julian.

Also in the cast are Nina Nelson, 14, of Brownstown Township as Little Ti Moune; Glen Bourgeois, 16, of Detroit as Daniel; Monroe residents Carly Krulikowski, 16, as Asaka, and Jacob Krulikowski, 14, as Agwe; and Makena Shell, 15, of Woodhaven as Erzulie.

Cast members playing storytellers include Allen Park residents Abbey DeMorow, 17, and Eric Kudla, 16; Amber Addair, 16, of Dearborn Heights; Abigail Socull, 17, of Lincoln Park; Susan Hammermeister, 13, of Riverview; Southgate residents Lexi Nadolski, 16, and Josie Palmer, 19; Trenton residents Evan Macleod, 19, and Jenna Perugi, 18; and Wyandotte residents Madeline Baker, 13, and Olivia Johnson, 15.
Also playing storytellers are Brownstown Township residents Jayme Dills, 13, Aiyanna Fivecoat, and Brooke Scherer, 15; Flat Rock residents Ally Balan, 18, Sydney Balan, 15; Caelan Hunt, 15, and Kayla Rodriguez, 13; Grosse Ile Township residents Jordan Aguilera, 13, Sam Bartow, 16; Charlie Redfield, 13, and Claire Schultz, 17; and Isabelle Grima, 15, of Woodhaven.
Tickets are $15 for preferred seating, $12 for adults, and $10 for students and seniors. For tickets or more information, call 734-771-7945 or go to dypac.com.

STARSHINE THEATRE WORKSHOP HELPS DEVELOPMENTALLY CHALLENGED

Building confidence through singing, dancing and acting onstage are part of the positive experience of the Neighborhood Service Organization’s annual Starshine Theater Workshop, offered each summer for developmentally challenged participants at the Players Guild of Dearborn.

The workshop, which runs 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 8 to 11, culminates in a 7 p.m. Aug. 12 performance of “Super Herolympics” at the playhouse, 21730 Madison in Dearborn.
“The audience truly enjoys the performance, and many are moved to tears by seeing their loved one’s confidence and and abilities grow on stage,” publicist Lauren Garfield-Herrin said.

‘CATS,’ ‘ARISTOCATS’ OFFER PURR-FECT PAIRING

The Young Actors Performance Project, under the direction of Cynthia Frabutt, present Disney’s “The Aristocats” and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Cats” at Dearborn High School, 19501 Outer Drive in Dearborn.

The first hour of each performance features a preteen production of “Aristocats” followed by the teen production of “Cats.”

Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Aug. 12 and 13; 3 p.m. Aug. 13; and 4 p.m. Aug. 14. Tickets are $15 for both shows, $8 for “Aristocats” only, and $10 for “Cats” only.

Proceeds from the show benefit the Dearborn Area Theatre Association’s high school scholarship fund, Dearborn High School thespians, and the Dearborn Animal Shelter.

The shelter will sponsor a kitten and cat fostering and adoption information booth, with feline ambassadors on hand before each show and during intermission.

For more information, call 313-827-1647 or go to dearbornareatheatre.org.