It might be the middle of January, but a group of students is ready to bring a dose of the tropics to the Franklin & Marshall campus.
F&M Players, the College's student-run musical theater organization, will unveil its annual full-scale production when "Once on This Island" opens in the Roschel Performing Arts Center Jan. 17 at 7:30 p.m. Directed by Rob Silverman '15, the musical will also take place Friday, Jan. 18 at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday, Jan. 19, at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
The musical is produced entirely by F&M students, including the directing, conducting, choreography and acting. The students returned to campus Jan. 2 to prepare for opening night, a moment Silverman has been eagerly anticipating since he proposed "Once on This Island" to the executive board of F&M Players last spring.
"'Once on This Island' works perfectly for F&M Players because it's an ensemble piece. It's almost an operetta," Silverman said. "It really challenges us because this group of students has never done a production like this. Everyone has worked so hard. It's exciting to see our cast and crew take the reigns and take ownership of the production. I can see in their eyes that they're ready."
Based on the novel "My Love, My Love; Or, The Peasant Girl" by Rosa Guy, "Once on This Island" had a Broadway run in the early 1990s. It is the story of a peasant girl, Ti Moune, who is sent on a journey by gods to find her lost love, Daniel Beauxhomme. The story also touches on the issue of social class, and how powerful love can be, Silverman said.
"The story is about breaking down barriers. All of us are in this boat of human experience together," Silverman said. "We're all counting the story we live day by day."
F&M's Marissa Bendit '15 plays Ti Moune, while Cameron Koob '16 is Beauxhomme. Off stage, key contributors to the production include Josh Chopak '14 (musical director), Emma Corrado '16 (stage manager), Julia Philips '15 (lighting designer), Jackie Sager '13 (conductor) and Hannah Weissler '15 (choreography).
The musical includes members of the student-run F&M Dance Company, members of various a cappella groups and students who are majoring in theatre, dance & film.
Silverman said he considered attending a conservatory theater college, but chose F&M so he could have a well-rounded college experience. He plans to declare a double major in economics and film.
"F&M Players gives students an opportunity to get involved in musical theater at all levels," he said. "Students can be members of the chorus, musical directors, stage managers and lighting designers. F&M Players works well in synergy with what the Department of Theatre, Dance & Film offers students academically."
Tickets, which are $5 for students, $7.50 for College employees and $10 for off-campus patrons, may be purchased online.