×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Stagecraft Podcast: Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty Return to ‘Once on This Island’ (Listen)

Stephen Flaherty wasn’t sure he had permission to write “Once on This Island.”

So says the Broadway composer in the latest episode of Stagecraft, Variety‘s theater podcast, in a conversation with his songwriting partner Lynn Ahrens (“Anastasia,” “Ragtime”) about the new revival of their 1990 musical. The show is set on a Caribbean island, draws on the traditions of Afro-Caribbean music and stars a non-white cast — but it’s written by a pair of white American songwriters.

Cultural awareness of diversity and authenticity is at a much higher level than it was in 1990, but even then Flaherty was conflicted. “I struggled with it originally, when we were creating it,” he says in the podcast. “I wanted to make sure that I was the person to write this, and that I had the right tell this story.” He eventually decided he did, and explains why in the podcast.

The duo also discuss the ways in which the story, a fable about a star-crossed romance on a hurricane-wracked Caribbean island, has taken on new resonances in the wake of Hurricane Maria, as well as director Michael Arden’s found-object aesthetic for the in-the-round staging.

They also reminisce about the first time they wrote a song together. It was one of the final projects of the BMI Workshop for budding composers and lyricists — and Flaherty almost never got up the nerve to ask her to collaborate.

“He never even said hello to me, to be honest,” Ahrens recalls with a laugh. “He was so shy!”

The latest episode of Stagecraft is available now on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher and Soundcloud.

More Legit

  • Hamilton West End Production.

    'Hamilton' Panic Over Mistaken Reports of Gunfire Injures Three in San Francisco

    Three people were injured after mistaken reports of an active shooter at a San Francisco production of “Hamilton” caused attendees to flee the theater. CNN reported that a woman experienced a medical emergency — later determined to be a heart attack — during a scene in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s play wherein Founding Father Alexander Hamilton is shot on [...]

  • The American Clock review

    London Theater Review: 'The American Clock'

    Time is money. Money is time. Both come unstuck in “The American Clock.” Arthur Miller’s kaleidoscopic account of the Great Depression, part autobiography, part social history, crawls through the decade after the Wall Street crash, dishing up snapshots of daily life. In the Old Vic’s classy revival, director Rachel Chavkin (“Hadestown”) tunes into the play’s [...]

  • Jake Gyllenhaal

    Off Broadway Review: Jake Gyllenhaal in 'Sea Wall/A Life'

    Comfy? Okay, let’s talk Death: sudden death, painful death, lingering death, accidental death, and whatever other kinds of death happen to come into the receptive minds of playwrights Simon Stephens (“Sea Wall”) and Nick Payne (“A Life”). The writing in these separate monologues — playing together on a double bill at the Public Theater — [...]

  • Michael Jackson Estate Cancels Musical Test-Run

    Michael Jackson Estate Cancels Musical Test-Run

    With an HBO documentary that places strong allegations of abuse against Michael Jackson premiering in two weeks, the late singer’s estate announced Thursday that it’s canceling a scheduled Chicago test run of a jukebox musical about him. The estate and its producing partner in the musical, Columbia Live Stage, said that they’re setting their sights on going [...]

  • All About Eve review

    West End Review: Gillian Anderson and Lily James in 'All About Eve'

    To adapt a crass old adage: it’s “All About Eve,” not “All About Steve.” Stripping Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s sharp-witted screenplay about a waning theater star of its period trappings, Ivo van Hove’s stage adaptation fine-tunes its feminism for our own sexist age — image-obsessed, anti-aging, the time of Time’s Up. Rather than blaming Lily James’ [...]

  • Adam Shankman

    Listen: Why Adam Shankman Directs Every Movie Like It's a Musical

    Director Adam Shankman’s latest movie, the Taraji P. Henson comedy “What Men Want,” isn’t a musical. But as one of Hollywood’s top director-choreographers of musicals and musical sequences, he approaches even non-musicals with a sense of tempo. Listen to this week’s podcast below: “When I read a script, it processes in my head like a [...]

  • Matthew Bourne's 'Cinderella' Review

    L.A. Theater Review: Matthew Bourne's 'Cinderella'

    How much can you change “Cinderella” before it is no longer “Cinderella”? In the case of choreography maestro Matthew Bourne — who, it should be said, first unveiled his spin on the classic folk tale some 22 years ago — the music is most certainly “Cinderella” (Prokofiev’s 1945 score, to be exact), but the plot [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content