Following its premiere at Playwrights Horizons, Once On This Island opened at the Booth Theatre October 18, 1990. The musical, featuring a score by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, played 19 previews and 469 performances before closing on December 1, 1991. The production would go on to garner eight Tony Award nominations, including Best Musical. (In 2018, the revival, directed by Michael Arden, took home Best Revival of a Musical.)
Starring Tony Award winner LaChanze as Ti Moune, Once On This Island tells the story of a fearless peasant girl who falls in love with a wealthy boy from the other side of the island. When their divided cultures keep them apart, Ti Moune is guided by the powerful island gods Erzulie, Asaka, Papa Ge, and Agwe, on a remarkable quest to reunite with the man who has captured her heart. The musical is based on the novel My Love, My Love by Rosa Guy.
Rounding out the cast were Jerry Dixon as Daniel, Andrea Frierson as Erzulie, Sheila Gibbs as Mama Euralie, Kecia Lewis as Asaka, Afi Bijou as Little Ti Moune, Gerry McIntyre as Armand, Milton Craig Nealy as Agwe, Nikki Rene as Andrea, Eric Riley as Papa Ge, and Ellis E. Williams as Tonton Julian.
Directed and choreographed by Graciela Daniele, the production featured scenic design by Loy Arcenas, costume design by Judy Dearing, lighting design by Allen Lee Hughes, and sound design by Scott Lehrer.
A 2017 production, directed by Tony nominee Michael Arden, played the Circle in the Square Theatre, winning the Tony Award for best revival.
In addition to Once on This Island, Block and Arcelus recommend listening to Infinite Joy: The Songs of William Finn, a compilation of the Tony winner's cut songs and unfinished work.