In about a month, I'll be playing guitar in Once on This Island with Act3 Productions. I'm excited about this show! This will be my second show with Act3. I played All Shook Up with this company in February, and I was impressed at production level and depth of talent, so I'm really looking forward to playing Once on This Island.
The music is just plain fun, and it's a little different. I'm not sure if you can pigeonhole the music into a single genre. It has a lot of island rhythms with a touch of New Age. Most of the music has a very strong beat, which makes it deceptively difficult for the pit orchestra. While much of the music is written for dancing and sounds simple enough, the composer throws in some meter changes and asymmetrical phrasing to keep us on our toes.
While the guitar book for Once on This Island isn't nearly as frightening as the All Shook Up book, it's still a challenging part. I've been practicing the show music regularly so that I can hold up my end when we meet for our first orchestra rehearsal. If there are any high school and college students out there who are interested in playing shows, there's one main difference between playing school productions and playing professional productions. In school productions, you usually have a lot of rehearsals, and you can get away with learning the music during rehearsals. For a professional show, you have very few rehearsals – sometimes just one – so you need to learn your music before you even start the first rehearsal.
Here are a couple YouTube clips to give you a sense of Once on This Island's music.
Aside from the music, I like the story. This is not your typical Broadway musical with a fairy tale ending. It's suitable for family, but there are some serious elements that address race and class issues. If you're interested in learning more about the story, this Wikipedia article offers a good synopsis. Just don't read all the way down if you want to be surprised when you see the show!
Once on This Island is scheduled to play at Act3 Productions June 17-19 and 22-26, and I would love to see my Atlanta friends there. As far as I know, tickets are not yet on sale, but you'll want to check back at www.act3productions.org from time to time. Tickets for All Shook Up sold out quickly, and I expect the same will be true for this musical, too.
- Tom Godfrey
- Atlanta, GA, United States
- When I suffered a lip injury that ended my career as a classical trombonist, I thought my life as a musician was finished, but I fell in love with music all over again when Santa gave me a guitar for Christmas in 2003. Even as I was struggling with my first chords, I was planning a new performance career. As a trombonist, I performed with the Heritage of America Band at Langley Air Force Base, the Ohio Light Opera, and in pick-up bands for touring acts that included Rosemary Clooney, George Burns, and the Manhattan Transfer. Reborn as a jazz guitarist, I sing and play my own solo arrangements of jazz classics, am half of the Godfrey and Guy duo, and hold the guitar chair in the Sentimental Journey Orchestra. I have been a freelance music copyist since 1995, served as Director of Music at Northwest Unitarian Universalist Congregation from 2011 to 2017, and currently serve as Contemporary Band Director at the same congregation.