Once on This Island – take a virtual trip to the tropics this December

By Ande Jacobson

2020 has been quite a year for us all. For those missing the joys of live theatre, Sunnyvale Community Players (SCP) has quite a treat in store this December. In keeping with all the safety protocols in place to keep audiences and actors safe from the pandemic, SCP is mounting a streaming run of Once on This Island. The show, based on the book My Love, My Love by Rosa Guy, has book and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and music by Stephen Flaherty, the duo who originated Seussical and Ragtime. Once on This Island opened on Broadway in 1990. It later began an award-winning West End run in 1994, and more recently enjoyed a Broadway revival beginning in 2017. At present, a Disney+ film adaptation is in work to bring the show to an even wider audience.

Once on This Island is a mystical story of love, sacrifice, and acceptance set in the French Antilles archipelago in the early 1900s and is extremely topical today. The show is packed with lively Caribbean inspired music and dance that will delight the entire family.

SCP is pulling out all the stops with high production values akin to those used in the film industry as well as in professional stage productions recorded for streaming during this unusual time. The performers will be recorded live while remaining safely distanced, and they will record their vocals separately in isolation to remove risk to each other. They’ll perform all of their action for the camera themselves, costumed, outdoors, in front of a green screen, and post-production “magic” will place them in closer proximity as required by the staging. Music Theatre International will provide the instrumental music via performance tracks recorded by a live, professional studio orchestra.

This unusual setup (for community theater at least) will allow audiences to stream a pre-recorded live performance from the comfort and safety of their homes and still support the arts community. This also allows the performers to work together (albeit a little further apart than can be achieved on a normal stage) and share in the thrill of creating theatrical moments to move their audiences. The advantage of being online is that audience members far and wide can enjoy this production.

Samantha Mills (Ti Moune), Kyrie Timbrook (Asaka), Naomi Evans (Papa
Ge), Patrcia Pitpitan (Erzulie), and Victor Ragsdale (Agwe) star in the
musical ONCE ON THIS ISLAND, streaming online December 5-20, 2020.
Tickets available at sunnyvaleplayers.org.
Photo credit: Gary Stanford, Jr.

The cast includes:


  • Samantha Houston
  • Samantha Mills
  • Avishi Phadke
  • Patricia Pitpitan
  • Jamari McGee
  • Willow Mae
  • Jeffrey May Hyche
  • Eric Ward
  • Beth McClellan
  • Naomi Evans
  • Kyrie Timbrook (vocals by Juanita Harris)
  • Victor Ragsdale


  • Letitia Burton
  • Amarech Mendez
  • Samora Stephens
  • Dave Gammad
  • Jessica Herrera
  • Leonardo Diaz
  • Milan Whitfield
  • Riley Blackwell
  • Rebecca Borrison
  • Sophie Sontaag

The staff includes:

  • Director/Choreographer: Gary Stanford Jr.
  • Vocal Director: Justin Pyne
  • Producers: Bruce Campbell and Brenda Jackson
  • Stage Manager: Alyssa Houston
  • Production Manager: Kyrie Timbrook
  • Costume Designer: Jo-Ann Birdsall
  • Video and Audio Post-Production: Kevin Surace

The show runs as a video on demand offering 5-20 December 2020; Mondays – Thursdays at 7 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. These digital performances will be available for four hours beginning at the listed “curtain time” for each performance.

Tickets are $24.95 plus a $2.79 ShowTix4U service fee per ticket and are available through sunnyvaleplayers.org and directly through ShowTix4U at https://www.showtix4u.com/events/17692. Patrons can also contact tickets@sunnyvaleplayers.org for more information.

SCP has not let the pandemic get them down. Because of the need for performers to share their art safely during this time, SCP has given rise to SCP Digital. Offerings beyond Once on This Island include varied concert and theatrical performances to keep the arts alive in the local community and beyond.

Once On This Island (New Broadway Cast Recording)
Once on This Island: Vocal Selections

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