Paper Mill Playhouse has just announced that American Idol finalist Syesha Mercado has been cast as Ti Moune in the Millburn, New Jersey, theater's production of Once On This Island (book and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, music by Stephen Flaherty). More than 20 years after its premiere, Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens are re-inventing their first musical with Tony-nominated director Thomas Kail (In the Heights, Lombardi, Magic/Bird) and choreographer Bradley Rapier (So You Think You Can Dance). Once On This Island begins performances on Wednesday, May 30, 2012, and runs through Sunday, June 24, 2012. Complete casting will be announced at a later date. Once On This Island is proudly sponsored by Bank of America.
The official press opening is scheduled for Sunday, June 3, 2012 at 7:00pm.
Once on This Island, a highly original and theatrical Caribbean adaptation of the popular fairy tale The Little Mermaid, garnered eight Tony nominations in 1991 for its Broadway run, including Best Musical, Book and Score. The West End production opened in 1994, where it won the 1995 Olivier Award for Best New Musical. In almost non-stop song and dance, the show tells the story of Ti Moune, a peasant girl who rescues and falls in love with Daniel, a wealthy boy from the other side of her island. When Daniel is returned to his people, the fantastical gods who rule the island guide Ti Moune on a quest to test the strength of her love against the powerful forces of prejudice, hatred and death. This tropical treat from the award-winning writer-composer team behind Ragtime tells their tale of romance, tragedy, redemption and rebirth with an astounding score, captivating choreography and an irresistible Caribbean beat.
"There have been many wonderful incarnations of Once On This Island over the years," stated lyricist Lynn Ahrens, "but we're really excited about Paper Mill's upcoming production, a re-imagining which we think will be extraordinary." Composer Stephen Flaherty adds, "The multi-ethnic cast is stunning, the re-conceived orchestrations are gorgeous, and from what we've seen so far, the sets are a knockout. All in all, we can't wait!"
Once On This Island will be performed eight times a week, Wednesday through Sunday. Single tickets are on sale from $25. Tickets may be purchased by calling 973-376-4343, at the Paper Mill Playhouse Box Office at 22 Brookside Drive in Millburn, or online at www.papermill.org. Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express accepted. Groups of ten or more can receive up to a 25% discount on tickets and should call 973-315-1680.
Syesha Mercado (Ti Moune) was born January 2, 1987, in Bridgeport, Connecticut. She spent her childhood in Bradenton and Sarasota, Florida, where she discovered her love for singing in her church choir, like many of today's standout artists. She attended school for the performing arts, where she began to master her unique singing voice. Aiding in that mastery was her participation in a local band that had her constantly performing at many local community and charity events, quickly winning over the hearts of anyone who listened to her.
In 2006, Syesha became a contestant on ABC's The One: Making a Music Star, and when that was cancelled after four episodes she moved on, and in 2007 her amazing voice won her the Florida Supersinger contest. In 2007, Syesha auditioned for the hit FOX show American Idol, hoping to follow in the footsteps of Kelly Clarkson, Ruben Studdard, Fantasia Barrino, Carrie Underwood, Taylor Hicks, and Jordin Sparks and become the next American Idol. Falling short of that goal by one week, Syesha came in third place out of more than 100,000 hopefuls (and the last female standing). On the American Idol Finale Syesha was honored to duet with Seal and Donna Summer.