Keystone's First Musical Theatre Production!
Posted 11/30/2018 11:38AM






R. Allen Babcock

《Once on this Island》Director/

Performing Art Center Director


“On that island where rivers run deep, where the sea sparkling in the sun earns it the name “Jewel of the Antilles”, the tops of the mountains are bare… Multicolored flora defy the destructiveness of man and climate to spring eternally back to life. This miracle the peasants attribute to the gods.”

My Love, My Love by Rosa Guy




This is the beginning of the novel on which Keystone’s first middle school musical, Once On This Island, is based. This special story has long been one of my and, indeed, many others’ favorites, and hopefully soon it will be forever yours,too. It is an age-old story and in addition to “My Love, My Love,” a certain well-known “Little Mermaid” shares many elements of this captivating simple story. We tell stories to teach important lessons about love, pain, hope, and life itself; the story of Ti Moune, the peasant girl, who loves and is ultimately not loved in return, teaches us all these lessons. It reminds us not to dwell on the complex things but rather remember the simple truth that:



 " out of what we live, and we believe, our lives become the stories that we weave. "



Once On This Island explores the concept of story. We tell stories not only as entertainment but also as a means of passing our understanding of the world around us down to future generations. These stories create, reinforce, and challenge systems of understandings. The first theatrical performances predate written language; they were stories told around a fire in a cave, beside a stream, or on the side of a mountain. The performance was the telling of a story.



For our performance of Once On This Island we have conceptualized the beginning of the production as a great storm, taking place in the present moment, in 2018. The characters enter the auditorium in a state of panic. They represent peoples from all around the globe that experience the horrible devastation of tropical storms: Indian, Chinese, American,  and Caribbean, among others. Their heritage is displayed through their costumes. Their situation is as fraught and complicated as it can be; it is life or death. People are screaming and crying. They find shelter in a storm shelter, which just happens to be a disused theatre. It is from here, somewhat magically gathered together from these disparate places, that the group decides to tell a story they find in a dusty book to calm the youngest among them, one small girl, who just will not stop crying.




Putting together a production on this scale at a school like Keystone is a complicated undertaking and is only made possible by collaboration and considerable hard work. For Once On This Island, a small army of excited and talented Keystone theatre faculty, community members, professional artists, visual arts faculty, Keystone Staff, parents and student designer/technicians has come together to support a cast of over 30. Ms. Sarah Koegler-Clarke, theatre faculty, leads a group of 10 young Keystone student designers who are collaborating to create the eclectic and creative costumes needed to tell the story of who these players are and what worlds they come from. Marina Antoline, music faculty, (supported by Christine Matovich as vocal coach, who transformed the students’ tentative voices into powerful story-telling instruments) leads us as the music director. She heads a live orchestra composed of Keystone faculty (Mark Elshout, Greg Barnes, Rob DiMarzo), external professional musicians, and Keystone student Julia Zhou. Visual Arts and Design Department Chair, Mark Hobbs, leads a crew of 10 Keystone students in the scene shop as they create the world of our abandoned theatre. John Han and Sam Zhang, Performing Arts Centre technicians, help a crew of 15 students understand how lighting and sound help create the world of a play. Spring Tian, the Executive Assistant to the Performing Arts Centre, is coordinating the acquisition of all the bizarre and unique items used on the stage. The direction team, Gillian Williams, Rachel Hopkins, and YoungSil Park, coordinate and support every rehearsal, providing inspiration and challenges to the cast. Most importantly, student Stage Manager Joya Zhao holds the entire endeavor together by keeping everyone on track and managing communication, logistics, tracking, and accountability. Countless other departments, including Marketing and Communications, Facilities, Operations, and IT departments, as well as divisions and school leadership, have also offered their support during this process. It really does take a village to tell this story.








| Keystone 2018 English Muscial |

 《 Once on this Island 


Time: December 13-15 at 6:30pm

    December 15 at 1:30pm

Location: Keystone Performing Arts Center

Please Click “here” to reservation

Ticket pickup is on the day of show. Box office opens in lobby of Performing Arts Centre 45minutes before show.



|Preview the Rehersal|

|Behind the Scenes|


I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being,” said prolific writer Oscar Wilde.


——  prolific writer Oscar Wilde


At Keystone, theatre allows students to exercise empathy, cultivate collaboration, and foster skills that are important to human development. As students prepare for Keystone’s first musical production, Once on This Island, they practice skills critical to a successful production in the world of theatre.  


Once on This Island explores the concept of story. We tell stories not only as entertainment, but also as a means of passing our understanding of the world around us down to future generations. These stories create, reinforce, and challenge our worldviews. The first theatrical performances predate written language; they were stories told around a fire in a cave, beside a stream, or on the side of a mountain. “Performance was the telling of a story,” wrote the Director of the Performing Arts Centre, Allen Babcock.



The central theme of Once on This Island, set on a mystical island in the French Caribbean, is about two characters whose lives converge after a natural disaster on the island. Communities are forced to come together and overcome their differences in order to establish harmony on the island. The production highlights not only the students’ acting abilities, but also their musical prowess with the help of Christine Matovich, one of the many members of the community who helped to bring this production to life.  




Keystone Grade 11 Studnet Jenny Liu


Students took their roles to heart, embodying the essence of each of their characters on stage. “I am in a leading role in the musical Once On This Island. The most striking part is that there are tons of lines and new songs I must remember. Since more moves and more singing are required to learn, I have to take more responsibility because my character is unique. I need to have more faith in myself and be more confident when I’ m onstage. In addition to extra rehearsals, sometimes I recite my lines and practice my songs after study hours, because I always want to keep up. However, the process is always enjoyable and fun!” says grade eleven student and lead actress, Jenny Liu.



Other students involved in the production had equally important roles behind the scenes, which gave them a glimpse into possible professional careers in the arts. Grade 12 student, Joya Zhao, worked as the stage manager alongside the directors and designers of the play. “It has been very exciting managing the logistics of the production. The adults in the team are amazing and they worked on many of the details so that I don't have to burden myself with too much responsibilities since this is my first show as a stage manager. Being a stage manager requires me to have a very organized system. I also needed to find a way so that this information can be communicated among people (a costume list needs to go through at least 7 people), which is the collaborative nature of the job. Finding the balance was a bit difficult, as I personally am not the person that enjoys working with others, but working in the production allowed me to make choices and take risks in a safe and familiar environment. The process of being a stage manager gave me the chance to experience more aspects of theater, and gave me a much deeper appreciation of theater as a form of art that relies on collaboration instead of out-shining everyone and just being "you"; how you need to let go of the "you" in order to make a better team.”


Don’t miss out on Keystone’s production of Once on This Island, showing from December 13 -15th at the Performing Arts Centre!






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