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A Standing Ovation For Once On This Island Jr.

On Friday, July 20, 2018, LAMusArt’s Camp MusArt held its performance of Once on this Island Jr. at East Los Angeles College, marking the program’s 21st year in operation.

Camp MusArt is a five-week summer arts enrichment program for students ages 7 to 15. Throughout the five-weeks, students go through the process of being in a real professional theatrical production, starting from the audition process all the way to performance day. For many students, Camp MusArt is their first introduction to the magic of live theatre, and we are so happy to introduce the performing arts into their young lives.

Once on this Island Jr. is the children’s adaptation of the Broadway show by the same name that tells the story of Ti Moune, a young peasant girl who is saved from a catastrophic flood by the island gods and who later falls in love with Daniel Beauxhomme, a wealthy boy who lives on the other side of the island.

Through a fateful encounter orchestrated by the  four island gods, Ti Moune and Daniel meet, creating the rippling effects that rids the island of its segregated past and which proves that love is the strongest force of all.

“One of the major themes of Once on this Island is the power of storytelling,” says director Luke Kanter, “. . . . we wanted to select a show for our students that was not something they had previously seen or known and to introduce them, their parents, and our community to new stories.”

Such a great show needs equally great talent and our Camp MusArt students were certainly talented. The lead role of Ti Moune was played by Lana Versoza, a two-time Camp MusArt student in her first leading role who took great care to rehearse her lines and choreography.

Versoza was joined onstage by the four gods of the island who help and test Ti Moune on her journey. Seasoned campers Azucena Ortega and Tanyth Perez played Asaka, Mother of the Earth, and Papa Ge, Sly Demon of Death, respectively. They were joined by newcomers Aiden Sanon who played Agwe, God of Water, and David Caldera who played Erzulie, the God of Love.

“It’s so rewarding to see your child succeed and this summer was even more rewarding than we could have hoped for. We saw a transformation in Aiden that we hadn’t seen before, “says LAMusArt Office Manager and Camp MusArt parent, Angie Sanon, of her son’s camp experience.

Joining the titular characters onstage were the very talented group of students who played the island citizens, creatures, and storytellers.  Ti Moune’s title song, “Waiting for Life” was performed by Versoza and students in our ensemble cast, whose harmonies sounded beautiful.

“The amazing thing,” says Camp MusArt Coordinator, Marlene Grajeda, “is that these kids come together each year to tell a story onstage. We say, ‘Go!’, but they are the ones who step onstage, nail their cues, and perform their hearts out.”

During camp, we got to see many new friendships bloom and we know that the students grew from collaborating with one another. They learned that the most beautiful things are not done alone, but accomplished as a team.

The creative team for Once on this Island Jr. included Luke Kanter (Director), Austin Chanu (Music Director), Kelly Ciurczak (Choreographer), and Daisy Hernandez (Prop Master).

LAMusArt would like to thank the East Los Angeles College Department of Theatre, student apprentices from the ELAC Department of Theatre (Angelene Storey, Henry Tran, and James Olguin), and Envizion Entertainment, whose contributions helped our students shine and whose and technical theatre knowledge made our production successful.

A heartfelt thank you also extends to our many wonderful Camp MusArt parents, friends, and family members who supported their campers during these five-weeks and who support their students with arts education.

For photos of Friday’s performance by CBGRPHY, click here.













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