Merle Dandridge returns to Tony-winning revival of Once on This Island

Merle Dandridge is set to play Papa Ge through to August 19, 2018.

Merle Dandridge

Following its Tony Award win for "Best Revival of a Musical" this month, original cast member Merle Dandrige returns to the role of Papa Ge in Once on This Island at the Circle in the Square Theatre. "American Idol" star Tamyra Gray will return to the role from August 20.

Ms. Dandridge previously appeared on the Great White Way in Monty Python's Spamalot, Disney's Tarzan, the 2000 revival of Jesus Christ Superstar, as the title role in Aida and as Joanne Jefferson in Rent. On screen, she is perhaps best known for her role as Grace Greenleaf in the hit series "Greenleaf" on the Oprah Winfrey Network. Other TV roles include Gwen Gaskin on "The Night Shift," Vega in "Star-Crossed," and Rita Roosevelt on "Sons of Anarchy".

The principal cast is currently led by Tony Award nominee Hailey Kilgore, making her Broadway debut as Ti Moune, alongside Tony Award winner Lea Salonga (as Erzulie), "Glee" star Alex Newell (as Asaka), Merle Dandridge (as Papa Ge), Quentin Earl Darrington (as Agwe), Tony Award nominee Phillip Boykin (as Tonton Julian), Alysha Deslorieux (as Andrea), David Jennings (as Armand), Kenita R. Miller (as Mama Euralie) and Isaac Powell (as Daniel).

As previously announced, Tony Award winner Lea Salonga will play her final performance as Erzulie on June 24, 2018, with current cast member Darlesia Cearcy taking over the role from June 25.

Once on This Island began previews at the Circle in the Square on November 9, 2017, ahead of an official opening on December 3.

The musical features a book & lyrics by Tony Award winner Lynn Ahrens and music by Tony Award winner Stephen Flaherty, who are also currently represented on the Great White Way by the Broadway premiere of Anastasia.

Synopsis: "Once on This Island is the extraordinary story of a fearless young dreamer named Ti Moune. After a massive storm rages through her village, a ray of hope appears through a young man from the wealthy side of the island. An unexpected romance blossoms. But when their different cultures threaten to keep them apart, Ti Moune—guided by the island gods—sets out on a journey to stay beside the man who has captured her heart. The musical transforms the reality of post-storm Haiti into a fantastical world bursting with Caribbean rhythms and dance."

Directed by Tony Award nominee Michael Arden, this new production features choreography by Camille A. Brown, music supervision by Chris Fenwick, music direction by Alvin Hough, Jr., new orchestrations by the musical's original orchestrator Michael Starobin, vocal designs by AnnMarie Milazzo, scenic design by Dane Laffrey, costume design by Clint Ramos, lighting design by Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer and sound design by Peter Hylenski. Tony Award winner Nikki M. James also serves as Assistant Director.

Once on This Island is produced on Broadway by Ken Davenport and Hunter Arnold.

Once on This Island premiered off-Broadway at Playwright’s Horizons in 1990 and transferred to Broadway in October of the same year. The Broadway production ran for a total of 469 performances and received an impressive total of eight Tony Award nominations including "Best Musical". Its West End premiere was staged in 1994 and ultimately won the Olivier Award for "Best New Musical" at the 1995 ceremony.

Once on This Island Tickets are available now for performances through to December 30, 2018.

(Photo by Joan Marcus)