Class act: A scene from Troika’s previous production Work In Progress 3. Work In Progress 4 is in August. *Photos supplied
Class act: A scene from Troika’s previous production Work In Progress 3. Work In Progress 4 is in August. *Photos supplied

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 6: Performing arts charity Troika has chosen an adaptation of a Broadway musical tackling prejudice for its fourth annual production.

Once On This Island by Lynn Ahrens is the first play the company has performed that has not been written by the students and their tutors, and auditions are due to start on June 9 at Berkeley Institute.

The original play — a theatrical Caribbean adaptation of the fairytale The Little Mermaid — picked up eight Tony nominations for its Broadway run including Best Musical, Book and Score. It tells the story of Ti Moune, a black peasant girl who rescues and falls in love with Daniel — a wealthy boy from the opposite side of her island. When Daniel is returned to his people, the fantastical gods who rule the island, guide Ti Moune on a journey to test the strength of her love against the powerful forces of prejudice, hatred and death.

Professional director

The play will be directed by professional overseas director Steven Huntsman.

Troika’s Seldon Woolridge explained to the Bermuda Sun why they had decided to do things differently this year.

“Part of our mission is to do original and professional work,” he said. “So in the past we have done all original plays. This year we wanted to do something a little bit different as we look to constantly grow and develop to be able to provide the young people with the exposure and experience to work on a professional piece.

“The audition process is different and the preparation — they will need to understand the characterisation of the particular piece.

“From the whole production standpoint it is completely different because it is already scripted so it is about how we bring that to life and how we depict that particular story.

“A lot of our young people have already applied for theatre arts programmes or are looking to apply. Being able to say they have worked on a musical professional piece provides a good standing on the performance resume when they go to apply.

“We wont change any of the script but the way we can put our stamp on it is through the costumes, the choreography, the way the music sounds and feels etc — it is definitely something that we craft and I think it will be organic in the way it is done. How we can present it so it is uniquely our own.”

Shoa Bean from Troika added: “It presents new new challenges for us because we have been so used to doing our own stuff — now we are keeping in line with someone else’s map of things someone else’s creative work. We have to spread our wings on all spectrums.”

Director Steve Huntsman is a native of Las Vegas and has been involved in theatre since he was a child. Among his directing credits are Elton John and Tim Rice’s Aida, Nunsense, Joseph and The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, Peter Pan, Once on An Island and Hairspray.

In 2012, he was recognised as Outstanding Director for Signature’s production of All Shook Up which was also selected as Outstanding Production for that season. He also has experience in costume and scenic designs and he teaches musical theatre, one-on-one coaching in acting and musical theatre performance. Along with his wife Sandra he recently launched Huntsman Entertainment, a production company that specializes in live theatrical experiences for all ages and interests.

Woolridge said: “Steve Huntsman has a wealth of experience in doing musicals and he has directed this piece before. We wanted to find someone who was familiar with the content but he has done many different musicals and for our first run we wanted to ensure that we had someone with the experience and skill set to come and assist us. It’s going to be exciting.”

The auditions at Berkeley Institute begin on June 9 from 10am to 3pm for everyone except dancers, who are scheduled for 4pm. There will be call back auditions by invitation only on June 16. The play is scheduled for performance at the Ruth Seaton James Centre in August.

Troika is looking for a young female aged between eight and ten years old for the lead role of Ti Moune as well as other lead roles, dancers and ensemble singers. There are also opportunities for students to work backstage and in production.

Bean said of the play: “This is a musical that everyone can relate to — it’s has a Romeo and Juliet type feel. The story is set on an island, which relates to Bermuda. It was perfect for what we want to do and portray and get the kids exposed to.”

Woolridge added: “It is like the prejudices we face in our society in terms of dating outside of your social class or your race.”

Those interested in auditioning are encouraged to prepare a piece in advance to perform at the audition as well as doing some primary research into the play.

When: June 9 from 10am to 3pm for everyone but dancers who audition from 3pm to 4pm. Call back auditions take place on June 16 — by invitation only.
Where: Berkeley Institute
Contact: Those interested in auditioning should e-mail or call 537-7590.