Brian Hayes, 16, a junior at Pearl River High School, has been in every Pearl River show since eighth grade, from “Don’t Drink the Water” to last fall’s “The Crucible” and all the plays and musicals in between.
But this spring’s show is his hands-down favorite.
It’s “Once on This Island,” a Caribbean-inflected take on “The Little Mermaid” from the team of Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, who also wrote “Seussical.”
“It’s so different than anything else we’ve ever done because the ensemble numbers are amazing and everyone gets to be in it,” says Hayes. (That’s Brian, inset.)
The stagecraft is key and the audience uses its imagination as the ensemble spins a story within a story for Little Ti Moune, a girl frightened by a storm. (Franklin Avenue School 4th-grader Ciara Carle, 10, plays Little Ti Moune.)
Hayes plays Daniel, one of the wealthy “grand hommes”; freshman Tara Quinlivan plays grown-up peasant Ti Moune, who saves Daniel’s life. There are gods, too: of love, of the Earth, of water and death.
Quinlivan is a revelation, with stage presence to burn. And Hayes is a solid partner here.
Rehearsing the opening number, “We Dance,” they all act as one, spinning and dancing and singing before settling in to tell the story. The stage pulses with activity, against an island backdrop.
“Once on This Island,” 3:30 p.m., April 30; 7 p.m., May 1 and 2. $10. 845-620-3801.
Here’s the Running Lines video I shot at Pearl River. I love the way senior Tom Kinnally goes full throttle for his laugh as Papa Ge, the god of death. Enjoy!