Play takes a look at life after Katrina

By Rachael Scarborough King, Register Staff
March 26, 2008

OLD SAYBROOK — The stage in Old Saybrook High School’s auditorium was filled with student actors of all ages Tuesday as the members of this weekend’s musical production performed a preview of the show.

The school is presenting a version of the musical “Once on this Island” set in post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans. The After the Storm Foundation, which supports organizations helping young people in New Orleans, staged the musical with a cast of children and young adults from New Orleans in early 2007.

“Once on this Island” was first performed on Broadway in 1990. It is a retelling of the “Little Mermaid” fairy tale set on a Caribbean island.

Old Saybrook’s staging of the musical includes elementary and middle-school students from Kathleen E. Goodwin School and Old Saybrook Middle School, as well as the high school actors, stagehands and technicians.

Senior Megan Puttre, who plays earth goddess Asaka in the musical, suggested to organizers that the school perform the play this year.

She attended a summer music program at Wesleyan University, where she became friends with some students who had performed in the New Orleans production.

“We just started thinking about it, so then I became the head of the After the Storm committee,” said Puttre, 18. “Art basically is a segue out of depression into dealing with whatever problems they have.”

Maggi Dunlap, another senior in the musical, said Old Saybrook’s theater program has donated proceeds from past shows to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, an entertainment industry group that supports people with HIV/AIDS and other critical health issues.

“Old Saybrook is always trying to give back,” said Dunlap, 17. “This was just another way we could help our fellow thespians.”

Drama teacher Jeanne Proctor said Old Saybrook is the first high school in the country to work with the After the Storm Foundation to present “Once on this Island.”

Proctor is planning to make a donation to the foundation, although she is not sure how much the school will give.

“It’s good for my students to connect to a larger community, something outside of themselves,” Proctor said.

The musical is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased in advance at the high school or at Harbor Books on Main Street.

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