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Disney+ To Adapt Once On This Island

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    Awardsfan1990
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    Disney+ is set to make a film adaptation of Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens’ musical Once On This Island, which initially premiered on Broadway in 1991 (where it lost the Tony for Best Musical to The Will Rogers Follies) and was revived on Broadway in 2017 and won the 2018 Tony for Best Revival Of A Musical. No casting has been announced yet, but the creative team includes Jocelyn Bioh as the screenwriter, two-time Oscar nominee Marc Platt as the producer and Wanuri Kahiu as the director. https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/disney-tackling-adaptation-broadway-musical-once-island-1305121

    Thoughts? And for those who’ve seen the musical, any casting ideas you’d like to see?

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    Dan Backslide
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    A pleasant surprise. I wish they were doing it in animation, I feel like it could’ve really popped that way.

    Wouldn’t mind seeing some of the actors of the recent revival reprising their roles (Lea Salonga’s already worked with Disney before). Although I hope they don’t bring Alex Newell in. Wasn’t a fan of his, especially hearing about his bad behavior during the production.

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    Jeffrey Kare
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    I’ve never seen the stage musical, but I am very familiar with the score. Though it’s really cool to see more of the stage works of Lynn Ahrens & Stephen Flaherty get the cinematic treatment. I’d still love to see their Ragtime musical adapted for the big screen.

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    This post was found to be inappropriate by the moderators and has been removed.
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    vinny
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    jordan fisher and zendaya come to mind off the bat.

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    Jeffrey Kare
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    As a member of the American Theatre Critics Association, I’ve been attending their annual conference (which took place on Zoom this year for obvious reasons). I’ve just watched a panel with Lynn Ahrens & Stephen Flaherty, and they were asked about this project. Neither of them are actively involved with the film, though they’ve kindly passed it on to the people who are working on it. Not to mention that they both also have had meetings with them, and that if there ends up being any need for new songs, they’ll be happy to write some.

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    24fanatic
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    It’s about a 90 minute musical, so it definitely could use a new song or two. Would love for Hailey Kilgore, Isaac Powell and Alex Newell to reprise their roles (since they were so amazing on Broadway!) … especially Hailey and Issac, because I feel like they are young enough and their stars are just starting to rise (with Issac having stared in Broadway’s West Side Story and now cast in the Dear Evan Hansen movie and Hailey cast as one of the leads in the new Starz Power series).

    I have a feeling that Jennifer Hudson if available will be cast as Asaka to sing the hit showstopper “Mama Will Provide.”

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    Jeffrey Kare
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    Not to mention that Hailey Kilgore is going to appear as Aretha Franklin’s younger sister, Carolyn, in the upcoming biographical film, Respect.

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    Miles
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    I think they will try to get Zendaya, but it would be really cool if they kept Hailey Kilgore

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    Dan Backslide
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    Zendaya would do a great job, but I’d prefer an actress with a darker complexion do the role.

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    The Girls' Room
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    They are absolutely casting Kilgore and if they don’t they’re dumb af lol https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSsgkT5Z9F4

    watch I May Destroy You

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    The Girls' Room
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    Zendaya would do a great job, but I’d prefer an actress with a darker complexion do the role.

    I was just about to edit my post to say the colourism of casting Zendaya instead of Hailey would be quite, quite disappointing.

    watch I May Destroy You

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    Juanald02
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    Could Ariana DeBose be a good fit for the role, her star is quickly rising and this could be a good followup to west side story. And I could totally see Jennifer Hudson in this.

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    Jeffrey Kare
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    In a recent interview with Broadway Direct, screenwriter Jocelyn Bioh talked about how she got involved with this project and how things are going.
    https://broadwaydirect.com/jocelyn-bioh-on-the-once-on-this-island-film-adaptation-and-colorism/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=marketingcloud&utm_campaign=BD407&mcid=b2MyZnE4b0EwZElIYUZOL0JFVzA5UkZURU1sZmFOVVU=

    Some of the biggest theater news to come out this year is that you have been called to write the script for Disney+’s Once on This Island film adaptation. How did you become connected to the film?
    It was a pretty standard process. My agent sent me a message saying that Disney+ and Marc Platt were planning to produce and develop the Broadway musical Once on This Island into a live-action film and that they were interested in me writing it. Usually, they go to several writers at the same time and they hit up one writer until someone says, “Yes,” basically. I feel like they might have approached other writers and maybe those writers were just too busy to do it, but they reached out to me.

    Initially, I actually said no because while I love the musical and its part of so many of us there is a slightly problematic element to it in terms of what the storyline is—in particular how the musical ends. That fear of being fully dragged on social media for perpetuating a potentially problematic storyline, especially to a 2020, or whenever it comes out, audience, I was like, “Nah, I’m not trying to get dragged on the internet. NO.” It was actually a couple of my really good friends and my boyfriend who encouraged me to really think about it because there is a potential that I could maybe change [the ending] and Disney would be down with it. When I thought about it in that way, I was like, “Okay. Yeah. Maybe.”

    After a series of meetings just to and this is the boring part where you talk to the execs, you present your version of the film. You talk to the director and you present your version of the film. Then eventually someone calls you and says, “You got the job.” That’s what happened.

    Have you begun the scriptwriting process?
    I’ve written a script already. My producers are now reading it and we’ll go through the notes process. There’s so much process. People don’t even realize how much process is between getting a job. Here’s the thing. I got the job in January. The press release for the Once on This Island live-action film came out in July. I had already been writing a script for months when the press release came out. Then you have to go through the process of doing notes. Then eventually Disney will green-light it beyond development, and to actually get produced. There’s no guarantee, unfortunately, that it’ll get produced, but I’m hoping that I write a very convincing script that will tell them you absolutely have to produce it. So, knock on wood.

    Besides the ending, were there any pieces of the plot that you felt that you had to expand on?
    I just felt like it was important to me to update the story as best I could. I did want to honor the legacy of the Broadway musical. I wanted to honor the legacy of My Love, My Love, or The Peasant Girl, the book that it’s based on by Rosa Guy. That book is essentially a Caribbean remake of The Little Mermaid. It’s like I’m the fifth interpretation of this story. I just wanted to honor those legacies, but also bring it fully up to date, and make it fresh, contemporary, and modern. I also wanted to address some of the plot points or story devices that I thought were just ever so slightly problematic or wouldn’t read or register with a modern audience. I think I’ve done that.

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    24fanatic
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    Change the ending???! The ending is what makes the story so powerful… and what the whole musical is about. Huh?

    God I hate that writers today are afraid of getting dragged on social media for their material. What was the point of Disney wanting to adapt this to film if they weren’t down with the story? Almost everything in this musical would be technically considered “problematic” in 2020 if you don’t want to focus on the bigger message of love. Sigh. Once again… what’s the point of this adaptation if it’s not going to be faithful when they have The Little Mermaid coming out???

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