North Quabbin Family Theatre putting on ‘Once on This Island’

  • Lacey-Mae Mason sits on stage in the Athol High School auditorium to listen to Director Julie Capone-Bouchard on July 9 for a rehearsal of “Once on This Island,” which is set for 60 Chestnut Hill Road in Orange on Aug. 1, 6, 7 and 8. STAFF PHOTO/DOMENIC POLI

  • Director Julie Capone-Bouchard holds her grandson, Vince, while directing her performers during a rehearsal of “Once on This Island.” STAFF PHOTO/DOMENIC POLI

  • Director Julie Capone-Bouchard talks with actor Sean Doyle just off stage during a rehearsal of “Once on This Island.” STAFF PHOTO/DOMENIC POLI

  • Liam Lucas-Mullen, gray hat, and Jazmyn Coppolino, holding a binder, rehearse on stage in the Athol High School auditorium on July 9 while Megan Ward, Jaylynn Eady and Branden Burke observe in the background during a rehearsal of “Once on This Island,” which is set for 60 Chestnut Hill Road in Orange on Aug. 1, 6, 7 and 8. STAFF PHOTO/DOMENIC POLI

  • Liam Lucas-Mullen, wearing the gray hat, and Jazmyn Coppolino, holding a binder, rehearse on stage in the Athol High School auditorium on July 9 while Megan Ward, Jaylynn Eady and Branden Burke observe in the background during a rehearsal of “Once on This Island,” which is set for 60 Chestnut Hill Road in Orange on Aug. 1, 6, 7 and 8. STAFF PHOTO/DOMENIC POLI

  • Kiersten Samalis rehearses on stage in the Athol High School auditorium as Cindy Doyle looks on. Samalis plays Erzulie in “Once On This Island.” Doyle plays Mama Euralie. Staff Photo/DOMENIC POLI

Staff Writer
Published: 7/21/2021 6:45:37 PM

Much of the past 16 months have made many feel like they’ve been locked on a deserted island. So what better way to celebrate the return of live performances than with the North Quabbin Family Theatre putting on a play about a peasant girl who uses the power of love to bring together people of different social classes on a tropical island?

Julie Capone-Bouchard is directing “Once on This Island” with a 16-member cast and a near-nonexistent budget.

“I just said, ‘We need to do something. We need to do something not only for the kids, but also for the community,’” she recalled, adding that she formed the family theater during the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning many rehearsals had to be socially distanced.

“Once on This Island” will have its run at 60 Chestnut Hill Road in Orange — the home of the North Quabbin Garlic and Arts Festival — on Aug. 1, 6, 7 and 8. All performances will begin at 4 p.m. except for the Aug. 6, which still start at 6 p.m. There are no rain dates.

“I wanted to do a show that would coordinate with a low budget as far as costumes and set, and the whole story takes place outside, on an island,” Capone-Bouchard said. “It just works out perfect.”

Tickets are $15 a seat, by reservation only. Call Helene Holmes at 978-544-6377 to reserve tickets. There are 110 spots per show and audience members will have to bring their own seating.

The cast rehearsed in the more confined space of Athol High School’s Phillip Anzaldi Auditorium on July 9 due to the heavy rainfall and lack of covering on the festival grounds. Under Capone-Bouchard’s direction, the actors and actresses ran through lines and practiced songs, trying to work out any kinks that arose.

Choreographer Jazmyn Coppolino has stepped up to take over the lead role of Ti Moune after Capone-Bouchard was forced to drop the original actress pegged for the part. Like most of the cast members, Coppolino is an alumna of Capone-Bouchard’s theater programs at Athol and Ralph C. Mahar Regional high schools, though her participation up to this point has been limited to dancing.

“It’s different. It’s like stepping out of your comfort zone all at once,” she said after the July 9 rehearsal. “Scary at first, but I think it’s going to pay off in the end.”

The Bridgewater State University student said she adores the chosen play and its well-written script.

“I love it,” she said. “I just like how everyone ties together, and just the theme of it altogether.”

Capone-Bouchard said she spent countless hours searching for a venue before finding the festival grounds, which are owned by Orange resident Dorothy Forster. Forster inherited the land from her dairy farmer father, who made her promise to share it with the community.

“I think it’s going to be a good time,” Capone-Bouchard said.

She said the Orange Recreation Association provided money to start her program and to pay for the rights to the show. She added she has rented portable toilets for audience members.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or
413-772-0261, ext. 262.


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