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Teen-directed play opening Friday
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The Dawson County Arts Council is presenting the musical production “Once on This Island Jr.” this Friday at Riverview Middle School’s auditorium.

Directed by local 17-year-olds Sean Newman and Heidi Rider, the play will run through June 23 and promises to be a “feast for the heart, mind and soul,” according to the council’s Web site.

“The show caters to all ages. It’s fun and vibrant and has a wonderful story. The younger kids love the dancing and the adults can appreciate the plot,” Newman said.

The plot is based on the novel “My Love, My Love” by Rosa Guy, which is an adaptation of the popular fairy tale “The Little Mermaid.” 

In almost non-stop song and dance, the show revolves around TiMoune, a peasant girl, and Daniel, a wealthy boy from the other side of her island.

“I would certainly draw parallels between ’Romeo and Juliet’ and Daniel and Ti Moune,” Newman said.

It starts when Ti Moune rescues Daniel from an automobile accident and accidentally falls in love with him.

When he is returned to his people she is called on a quest to test the strength of her love. Her character is challenged by forces of prejudice, hatred and death, explained the Web site.

“The themes really speak to everyone in the audience,” Newman said.

The set-design will remain simple but the Caribbean sounds in the music will be lively and energetic, said Newman.

“I love the music. It’s so high energy and fun to perform,” he said.

Newman and other theater participants first heard the play at the Junior Theater Festival in Atlanta.

Newman said him and Rider have wanted to direct the play for years. For the production, Rider led musical rehearsals while Newman choreographed pieces. 

More than 15 performers ages 13 to 18 are featured in the cast. Auditions were held on March 22. Terri Rider and Brenda Newman were the adult mentors for the production.

For more information call (706) 216-ARTS. To book tickets e-mail There will only be six performances.