Staff Writer

At the close of Winter vacation, students returned to campus for a new semester. Between new schedules to learn, new classes to attend, new books to stay up late studying, and the newly significant drop in the thermostat, a taste of the tropics was a much needed escape from the ever-grey skies and bare trees.

Thankfully, this past weekend the F&M Players, the only student-run, non-profit musical theater organization at F&M, provided just that as they celebrated their 31st season with the production of Once on this Island, directed by Rob Silverman ’15.

Based on the 1985 novel My Love, My Love; or, The Peasant Girl by Rosa Guy, Once on this Island is a highly imaginative theatrical performance that incorporates elements of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet as well as the fairy tale The Little Mermaid.

Through song, dance, and brief narration, Once on this Island tells the tale of an orphan girl named Ti Moune (Marissa Bendit ’15) who was adopted by two peasants: Tonton Julian (Jay Hall ’14) and Mama Euralie (Kristen Lancaster ’13). Together, the family lives on a tropical island ruled by the Gods (Athena Tahos ’14, Katrina Wachter ’15, Ali Tufano ’14, Corinne Littlefield ’13).

After a storm hits, Ti Moune rescues and falls in love with Daniel Beauxhomme (Cameron Koob ’16), a wealthy young man from the other side of the island. Once Daniel returns to his home, the Gods lead Ti Moune on a quest, during which she must navigate her way through issues of social class, prejudice, and death, all the while learning the highs and lows of love.

While most F&M students remained in post-holiday bliss, the F&M Players returned to campus early on Jan. 2 and were hard at work as they finished preparing for opening night.

“The most rehearsals started in tech week, when we spent 10 to 12 hours a day in Roschel,” said Ben Hollenbach ‘13, a first-time member of the F&M Players.

The musical was produced entirely by F&M students — everything from dancing to conducting, choreography, singing, and acting.

“Everyone is super busy with various activities,” Hollenbach said about the struggle to pull a production together in such a short amount of time. “There were very few times when all of us could meet. On top of planning a show, everyone has to take four to five classes.”

The talented cast of the musical was representative of all four years and included members of the student-run F&M Dance Company, members of various a cappella groups, students majoring in theatre, dance, and film, as well as those who simply share a passion for

“As a senior, this was my first year,” Hollenbach said. “I’m really glad I got that opportunity. I encourage younger students to get involved and start earlier than I did.”

In addition to those already mentioned, cast members included: Maia Chicherio ’15, Kelsey Glander ’16, Tori Harris ’16, Emily Hawk ’16, Ryann McMurry ’15, Pat Sheil ’15, Doug Siegel ’16, Christian Walsh ’14, and Charlie Wynn ’16.

Key contributors off stage included: Josh Chopak ’14 (musical director), Emma Corrado ’16 (stage manager), Julia Philips ’15 (lighting director), Jackie Sager ’13 (conductor), and Hannah Weissler ’15 (choreographer).

Thanks to all their hard work and dedication, the F&M players successfully raised the curtain to a fantastic performance and a new semester.

“We became a family because no one else was on campus when we were there,” Hollenbach said. “It’s weird to be away from everybody already.”

Questions? Email Caroline at

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