Press release: Once on this island at the Baxter

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Picture: provided

Tony-award-winning musical, Once on this island, by Wela Kapela Productions, is at the Baxter Flipside from 8 to 16 July.

The Tony-award-winning musical, Once on this island, by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, based on a Caribbean interpretation of Hans Christian Anderson’s, The Little Mermaid, comes to the Baxter Flipside for a short season from 8 to 16 July 2022 at 7pm with matinees at 2pm.

After a successful run at the Guild Theatre in East London, Wela Kapela brings a vibrant all-Eastern Cape cast to Cape Town, transporting audiences to a magical island “where rivers run deep” and where everyone is “at the mercy of the wind and the sea, praying constantly to the gods”.

Producer and director, Amanda directs the cast and live band of 14 performers with musical direction by Nathan Johannisen, choral direction by Akhona Zizipho Nkinti and choreography by Sonwa Sakuba, the hit musical, Once on this island, follows the journey of Ti Moune, a young peasant girl who fearlessly pursues love across racial and class barriers and who finds love in a divided world, while contesting the power of death. It is a story of love, life, pain, hope, grief and faith as it holds a mirror to society and allows a safe space to reevaluate one’s own thinking.

The young orphan tragically falls in love with a rich aristocrat, but unbeknownst to her, the pompous gods who preside over the island make a bet with one another about which is stronger - love or death – and the stakes being that of her life.

On a stormy night a terrible thunder booms, making a young cry in fear. To comfort her, the villagers tell her the story of Ti Moune (performed by Bathandwa Diniso), the peasant girl who falls in love with the atistocrat, Daniel Beauxhomme (Daniel Anderson). In this story, the four gods Asaka: Mother of the Earth (Dikelo Mamiala), Agwe: God of Water (Mava Gqeba), Erzulie: Goddess of Love (Kerry Hiles), and Papa Ge: Demon of Death (Alison Hillstead) rule an island of two different worlds, two different worlds that shall never meet.

“Working on this production was invigorating, each actor had to mine his or her own creativity, working together as an ensemble, yet creating strong individual characters,” explains Bothma, Wela Kapela Productions Founder. “There is simply nowhere to hide: all the characters are on stage all of the time, singing, dancing, telling a story within a story - really pushing the boundaries of theatre work. We have really brought the best talent - on and off stage. Be ready to be amazed by one incredible set - literally bringing a whole island to life!”

Cast member Daniel Anderson said, “Never before have I worked on such a complex and beautiful musical. This has ticked all of the boxes for sophisticated and transformational storytelling. The cast is marvelous, the music is exceptional, and the staging is the genius we always get from this team.”

The show has countless surprises, bright shweshwe fabrics and shadow puppetry. The performance includes a live band and an energetic and talented young cast. Audience members are invited to be transported to a magical island of community, love, hope and family, packed with heart and great music, making it perfect entertainment for the whole family during the school holidays.

Once on this island runs at the Baxter Flipside from 8 to 16 July 2022 at 7pm with Saturday matinees on 9 and 16 July at 2pm. Tickets are R180 throughout and R140 for block bookings of 10 or more, seniors and students. Booking is through Webtickets online at or at Pick n Pay stores.

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