‘Once On This Is­land’ high­lights im­por­tance of love

GA Voice - - Front Page -

For the last few decades, openly gay the­ater artist Ri­cardo Aponte has been work­ing con­stantly through­out At­lanta, but lately he’s per­haps busier than he’s ever been. His lat­est project is the mu­si­cal “Once On This Is­land.”

The mu­si­cal, open­ing soon at Ge­or­gia En­sem­ble The­atre, is the first show of the com­pany’s 25th an­niver­sary sea­son. Based on the 1985 novel “My Love, My Love; or, The Peas­ant Girl” by Rosa Guy, the mu­si­cal – with book and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and mu­sic by Stephen Fla­herty – takes place in a French ar­chi­pel­ago in the Caribbean where a peas­ant woman is able to bring peo­ple of dif­fer­ent classes to­gether – with love. It opened on Broad­way in 1990 and is about to get a Broad­way re­vival.

Ac­cord­ing to Aponte, the show – which con­tains el­e­ments of “Romeo and Juliet” and “The Lit­tle Mer­maid” – is his all-time fa­vorite piece of mu­si­cal the­ater.

“I was born in Venezuela, so the mu­sic we heard on the coast there is very close to what you hear in this score,” he said. “It feels like home to me. I very much con­nect to it. The themes through­out the mu­si­cal seem very rel­e­vant to 2017. It’s the right time to do it. I love the show’s sense of the im­por­tance of love, how im­por­tant it is in our com­mu­nity and the legacy that you leave be­hind.”

This is his first time be­ing in­volved in a pro­duc­tion of “Is­land.” Bob Far­ley, GET’s artis­tic di­rec­tor, in­vited Aponte in to di­rect and asked what kind of pro­duc­tion he’d be in­ter­ested in. “Once On This Is­land” seemed like a per­fect fit.

Aponte moved to the area 20 years ago, but he was al­ready very in­volved in the­ater be­fore he got here. His aunt had a bal­let com­pany in Venezuela and his mom was also in­volved in the troupe.

“I had been watch­ing them since I was a tod­dler,” he said. “I was al­ways at drama camps and act­ing school.”

Aponte’s first class when he came to Amer­ica was the­ater, and he didn’t know English very well, but had to re­cite some mono­logues. Some time later, he made his pro­fes­sional act­ing de­but in “Guys and Dolls” at Au­rora The­atre. Since then, he has turned to chore­ograph­ing (the last 10 years) and di­rect­ing (the last five) as well. His cred­its are nu­mer­ous,

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