Lea Salonga’s ‘Once on This Island’ revival wins big at Tony Awards

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The cast of ‘Once on This Island’ performed onstage during the 72nd Annual Tony Awards. Photo by Theo Wargo for Tony Awards Production

I’ve been on the [Tony Awards] stage a total of 3 times: first, to receive my Tony, second to perform in the opening number, and 3rd to present. But, what makes this 4th time special is that this is the first time I’ll actually be on the Tony stage with my cast representing our Tony-nominated show!

The Michael-Arden directed musical Once on This Island won the Best Revival of a Musical at the 2018 Tony Awards held at the New York’s Radio City Music Hall on Sunday, June 10, 2018 (Monday, June 11, in Manila).

The play, which stars Filipino Broadway actress Lea Salonga, defeated musical frontrunners My Fair Lady and Rodgers & Hammersteins’ Carousel.

Once on This Island was originally staged in 1990. Set on an island in the Caribbean Sea, it tells the story of Ti Moune, a young peasant girl in love with a man named Daniel whom she rescued from a car accident. Lea plays the role of Erzulie, the goddess of love. It was originally played by Andrea Frierson-Toney in the 1990 production.

Among those included in the cast are 2018 Tony Award nominee Hailey Kilgore, Glee’s Alex Newell, American Idol’s Tamyra Gray, and Cats’ Quentin Early Darrington. The musical is based on the novel My Love, My Love; or The Peasant Girl by Rosa Guy, with music by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens.

Lea Salonga’s performance with the cast last Sunday marked her fourth time on the Tonys stage. Before the performance, she tweeted a message expressing her excitement.
“I’ve been on the [Tony Awards] stage a total of 3 times: first, to receive my Tony, second to perform in the opening number, and 3rd to present. But, what makes this 4th time special is that this is the first time I’ll actually be on the Tony stage with my cast representing our Tony-nominated show!”

The original Broadway production opened on October 18, 1990 at the Booth Theatre and officially closed on December 1, 1991 after 469 performances and 19 previews. The musical was nominated for a total of eight Tonys, but took home none.

Producer Ken Davenport accepted the award on behalf of the show, expressing his happiness over the win.

“This is not how I expected this night to go at the beginning of this evening,” he said. “To that cast who performs tirelessly on that stage eight times a week. And lastly, to all the people who dream about doing what I do and what everyone else in this room does. Do not stop asking your question. It’s amazing what can happen. You can get to your yes!”

The musical The Band’s Visit took home several Tony Awards, including best musical, best actor in a leading role in a musical and best actress in a leading role in a musical. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two won six awards, including best play, best scenic design, best costume design of a play, best lighting design of a play, best sound design of a musical and best director.

Andrew Garfield accepted his first Tony this year for his role as Prior Walter in Tony Kushner’s epic Angels in America. The play is a revival of Tony Kushner’s 1991 drama about life, love, and homosexuality. It follows the story of Walter’s physical deterioration and spiritual journey as a man living with AIDS in the 1980s.

He dedicated the award to the LGBTQ community while making a bold statement, referring to the recent Supreme Court ruling on a bakeshop declining to bake a cake for a same-sex couple. He said, “We are all sacred and we all belong so let’s just all bake a cake for everyone who wants a cake to be baked.” — With data from www.billboard.com

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