“Once On This Island” at the Just off Broadway Theater

It’s been a long time since I’ve tapped my feet and moved my body all the way through a play, but last Friday, at the opening night of “Once On This Island”, I looked around the crowded room more than once to see of others watching me as I danced in my seat.

The music, by Stephen Flaherty and the lyrics, by Lynn Ahrens, both drive this fun-filled production. Optimism is the key and “the courage of a dreamer” is the order of the evening, expressed so well by Andrea  (Morgan Walker) singing and dancing her way through set-back after set-back.

The band known as “Book of Gaia” is at the core of this fast-paced production. Angela Hagenbach plays Mama Euralie, the wise woman that raised Andrea, and Pamela Baskin-Watson is at the keyboard, leading a swinging band featuring multi-instrumentalist Kaytee Dietrich on reeds, Brian Wilson on bass and with two solid drummers in Julian Goff and John Gilmore.

The third member of the trio, “Book of Gaia”, Nedra Goodson-Dixon is not on the stage in this production. Nedra has had a long and impressive stage career that began with a part in the original Broadway cast of “Hair” and recently featured her as Billie Holiday in “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill”. This time, she does an impressive job of directing the show.

The songs are fun. The cast is spectacular, and everyone leaves the theater buzzing from the energy created by this marvelous production.

“Once On This Island” sponsored by Theater League is upbeat and fun. Presented by the Spinning Tree Theater, the production runs through May 6. For tickets and more information, check out www.spinningtreetheater.com   or (816) 235-6222.

(Photo source facebook.com/SpinningTreeTheater)

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