October 31, 2014

Musical brings Caribbean beats to CVU

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Oct. 28, 2010

By Stephanie Choate
Observer staff

Sasha Torrens-Sperry (from left), Greg Zengilowski and Amelia Munson practice a song called ‘Pray.’ (Observer photo by Stephanie Choate)

For Candy Padula’s first play as Champlain Valley Union High School’s theater program director, she chose her favorite musical.

“As it’s my first show at CVU, I wanted it to be a special one,” she said.

“Once On This Island,” the school’s fall musical, is set to open Oct. 28 and run through Saturday.

“It is so beautiful and there’s always something going on, always something that I think will take the audience’s breath away,” Padula said. “It’s a fast-moving show, very high energy.”

Set on a Caribbean island divided between two isolated societies, the play is loosely based on “The Little Mermaid.” It follows the story of TiMoune, a peasant girl who falls in love with Daniel, an upper class boy from the other side of the island, after saving his life.

Senior Amelia Munson, who plays TiMoune, is no stranger to the play. A longtime participant in school drama programs, she has taken part in this musical in some capacity four times. She has even played TiMoune before — though she was in middle school.

“It’s definitely not the same this time,” she said with a laugh. “I’ve brought a lot of different stuff to the role that I couldn’t at 12 years old.”

Munson said viewers shouldn’t expect the Disney version, but that the play is a “beautiful story.”

“It teaches us all the reasons we should celebrate happiness and celebrate life,” she said.

Senior Matthew Shepardson, who plays the god Agwe, said he also likes the storyline.

“It’s a great family experience and a lot of fun,” Shepardson said. “It’s fun music and dancing.”

Shepardson said he has been acting in plays since he was 5 or 6 years old.

“You get to take on a different persona and be someone else, but you can still put parts of yourself in different characters.”

Padula said she loves the music and dancing in “Once On This Island.”

“I’m a choreographer, and I enjoy a lot of dancing in a show,” she said. “This show is almost nonstop movement and dancing from start to finish. It’s often been referred to as a choreographer’s dream.”

Although this is Padula’s first time directing at CVU, she is by no means a stranger to the drama world.

Padula has been involved in theater since she was a preteen, and has been directing “forever.” She ran the drama program at Trinity College before becoming a director at Mount Mansfield Union High School in Jericho, where she has been for the past 11 years. Padula will continue to direct plays at Mount Mansfield in addition to CVU.

During the last few weeks of rehearsals, Padula said she is too busy to be nervous or excited about the show.

“This last week of rehearsing a show is always a challenge for everyone,” she said. “We’re all invested and we’re all exhausted and working very hard and everything that could go wrong goes wrong, and then we figure out how to fix it.”

Padula said she is looking forward to opening night.

“I’m excited for the show to open, because that’s when I get to sit back and relax a little bit and watch it,” she said. “It’s a beautiful show to watch and enjoy.”

Performances of “Once On This Island” are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 28 and 29, and 2 p.m. on Oct. 30. Tickets are $6 for students and faculty and $8 for general admission. They can be purchased in advance at CVU during lunch periods or at Brown Dog Books in Hinesburg.

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