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Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012

Class Relations at Heart of Charming 'Island'

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Waukesha Civic Theatre collaborates with SummerStage of Delafield for the charming musical Once on This Island. The production tells the story of a peasant woman and an aristocratic young man who fall in love on a distant island.

The musical accompaniment to the well-harmonized ensemble is delivered almost entirely by synthesizer. The play debuted in 1990, and the music feels very much like light 1980s synth pop mixed with a Caribbean beat. For fans of this music, the experience is almost embarrassingly enjoyable.

The costuming is bright, the choreography is breezy and the story is a folk tale about love—tragic love. That's the beautiful thing about the source material for Once on This Island­: It may feel like a happy fairy tale in spirit and delivery, but it's actually a refreshingly deep allegory for class relations. But rather than get bogged down in the depressing negativity of class disparities, it challenges its audiences to live in a world of mutual respect between socioeconomic classes.

The story is delivered with bright, upbeat energy. Young Samantha Burkard is charming as Ti Moune, the woman who catches a glimpse of a white-clad island aristocrat driving in a car. As chance would have it, the aristocrat gets into an accident and Ti Moune nurses him back to health. Once he regains his health, he returns to his life on the side of the island where the aristocrats live. When the woman follows him, the drama begins.

This pleasant, memorable play is a heartfelt allegory wrapped up in vibrant '80s synth pop.

Waukesha Civic Theatre and SummerStage of Delafield's production of Once on This Island runs through Aug. 19 at the Waukesha Civic Theatre. For ticket reservations, call 262-547-0708.