Love, death, and choices were the themes of The Story of Ti Moune, an adaptation of Once on This Island presented by ATG students in the Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation’s Community Learning Center on April 7, 2016. Performed before a packed house of parents, friends, and community members, our cast of young actors, singers, and dancers told the story of a young girl sent on a journey to bridge two worlds and prove that love can triumph over death.
Teaching Artist Taylor Valentine led a mix of new and returning students through his third year of our musical theatre program, which we’ve run in partnership with CHLDC for the past nine years. The full-year program begins with theatre workshops in the fall leading up to auditions and show preparation in the spring. Taylor also runs Audition Prep workshops in the fall, helping to prepare 8th graders for the rigorous high school auditions process.
This year’s January auditions had a great turnout, with 30 students showcasing their talents. Ultimately Taylor had a dedicated cast of 17 students in grades 6 through 8 at the co-located IS 171 and Highland Park Middle School. Students from the two schools came together in the afterschool program to form one seamlessly blended ensemble. As the show date drew nearer, rehearsals ramped up and Dance TA Victorius Remak was brought on for a second year to work with the students on choreography. “We worked three days a week for at least two hours of rehearsal, and as we went along in February and March we increased the amount of rehearsal for each day,” Taylor said. “They’ve been working really hard, and they’ve come up with this incredible show.”
That hard work was evident in our young cast’s memorable performance. They showed enthusiasm and true appreciation for their craft as they acted, sang, and danced through the full-length production, reminding us “why we tell the story”–and why our arts programs continue to be a vital part of our students’ education. Our deepest thanks to Taylor and Victor as well as our partners at CHLDC for another wonderful semester, and to our videographer Oliver Lyons and photographer Lauren Mirsky Tannenbaum for capturing the action!