Members of the cast of Once on this Island Jr. practice "Mama Will Provide" from the show.
Members of the cast of Once on this Island Jr. practice "Mama Will Provide" from the show.

Archived Story

RMS to present ‘Once on this Island Jr.’

Published 3:54pm Tuesday, April 15, 2014

“Our hearts hear the song. Our feet move along, and to the music of the Gods, we dance!”

On the evenings of April 24 and 25, the RCS Auditorium will play home to the fifth annual spring musical for the Russellville Middle School Performing Arts Department as they present Once on this Island Jr.

Based on a Caribbean folk tale, this musical tells the story of Ti Moune, an orphan islander, and her journey to find her true love, a boy from the wealthy side of the island named Daniel that she saved from death. Unbeknownst to Ti Moune, the pompous gods who preside over the island make a bet with one another over which is stronger, love or death, the stakes being Ti Moune’s life. Through woven stories, beautiful music, and island dancing, the story of this young peasant girl’s ability to unite her island is told.

RMS drama director, Patrice Smith, said this production has been in the works for some time.

“We have been waiting on this show for a while,” Smith said. “We had to wait for the production license to be released as well as the right cast to come along. This year, our stars aligned perfectly.”

The cast is comprised of nearly 60 seventh and eighth graders, some of whom are making their musical stage debuts and others who will be bidding their middle school careers goodbye.

This year’s students can now count themselves in with the nearly 300 other former RMS performing arts students who have sung, danced, and acted in an RMS musical.

Frankie Hammock, RMS principal, said this program has been instrumental in the creation of well-rounded students in the RCS system.

“I think it has exposed our students to a different environment that will help develop them in an attitude to further their education,” Hammock said. “Our parents and students appreciate the opportunity to be exposed to the arts. Each year our fine arts program has grown due to the commitment of Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Rush.”

“From the first rehearsal, the students have collaborated to present this special musical in a very unique way,” said Emily Rush, RMS choral director. “While performing their songs and dances, they are able to address serious issues like discrimination and death. These students are growing not only as performers but people as well.”

Smith said this musical performance will be unlike any other they have previously presented.

In the past, they have always tried to raise the bar from the previous year’s musical. Once on this Island Jr. will not only feature professional lighting and sound, but also the students will perform in professional costumes flown in from New York.

“We have the opportunity to teach some of the best and brightest students in our area each day,” Smith said. “It is our job to be sure they have the most exceptional experiences possible to learn as much as they can. This show will be amazing.”

Once on this Island Jr. will be performed on April 24-25 at 6:30 p.m. in the RCS Auditorium. Tickets will be $5 at the door for school age and up.

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