Review: 'Once On This Island' by Whimsicality

Nancy Sasso Janis

Whimsicality: A Theatre for Young Actors has been rehearsing for their annual production presented at Watertown High School for only five weeks. This year they celebrate the ninth anniversary of the acting company of students eight years old through high school age. Artistic Director Devin Brown co-founded “Whimsy” back in 2007 and Lisa A. Hamel once again served as Choreographer.

 ‘Once On This Island, Jr.’ was the chosen musical, with book and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and music by Stephen Flaherty. Ms. Brown played the Goddess of Love next to Ms. Hamel back in 2001 (on the Swift Middle School stage) in this fairy tale celebration of love, life and death that is inspired by Hans Christian Anderson’s ‘The Little Mermaid.’ The young director dedicates the production to her mother and former Whimsy producer Denise “The Lady” Brown,” who will be forever in their hearts. 

 Timothy Brown is credited with the large and pretty impressive set pieces, the main one featuring two staircases and a ladder. The director designed the nice lighting to show it all off. Ms. Hamel outdid herself on the wonderful dance numbers and the young dancers nailed every challenging step in perfect unison.

 The leading roles were all played by strong young actors and even the chorus of gossipers gave it their all. Stage Manager Nate Davino, a junior at Watertown High, had a cameo as the Gatekeeper. Justin Canada played the injured Daniel and Danny Nelson appeared as Daniel’s father. Emily Dowling was adorable as Little Ti Moune and another little girl, and eight year old Aidan Boisvert was adorable and believable as Daniel’s very young son. Eighth grade student Sarah Woermer played Daniel’s arranged bride Andrea and Kasey Ingerson, eighth grader Courtney Candee-Zubik and WHS freshman Brittany Philippi were all strong in their roles as Storytellers. 

 The four gods were played by eighth grade student Hannah Jack as Ezulie (Love,) WHS rising junior Josh Rodis as the scary Pape Ge (Death,) Eliya Brennan as Asaka (Earth) and eighth grade student Cailin McGuire as Agwe (Water.) They all wore beautiful costumes stitched by Adriana Varanko and great hair and makeup. 

 I was impressed by the teens that played Ti-Moune’s adoptive parents. Marissa Ingerson as Mama Euralie and Pomperaug HS junior Jacob Rogotzke as Ton Ton Julian appeared older than their years and sang both “One Small Girl” and “Ti Moune” well. Marissa was in the cast of the very first Whimsy show. Eliana Cambra, self-described singer, dancer, pianist and soccer player, gave a fine performance as the selfless Ti Moune.

All of my favorite production numbers were done with enthusiasm and that joyous dancing. “Mama Will Provide,” “Why We Tell the Story,” and “The Ball” in the hotel were probably the best of all. Remaining performances at Watertown High School are Friday and Saturday at 7:00pm and general admission tickets are available at the door.