'Once On This Island' And The Power Of Storytelling

'Once On This Island' And The Power Of Storytelling

The Broadway musical "Once on This Island", based on Rosa Guy's novella "My Love, My Love, or The Peasant Girl", which was in turn based on Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale "The Little Mermaid", is heartbreakingly beautiful, and in that way it fulfills what all storytelling strives towards.


Anyone who knows the fairy tale "The Little Mermaid" (1837) knows that the very successful 1989 Disney film is a rather loose adaptation. In the original story, the little mermaid (who is unnamed) does indeed desire to become a human being in order to marry the prince whom she has saved from drowning, but she has another reason as well: she wants to gain an immortal soul. Mermaids have no such thing, and when they die, they die for good; but if the little mermaid marries a human being, she will share his immortality. Andersen, of course, was very interested in Christian themes in his works; this, we may suspect, was a bit much for Disney (at least in 1989). This is Big Difference # 1. The other is even more notable: while Disney has her marrying the prince and living happily ever after with him (after a suitably dramatic conflict with the film's villain), Andersen's mermaid does no such thing. Rather, the prince indeed marries another, and the little mermaid will now be condemned to become sea foam in the manner of mermaids' deaths. Her sisters approach her with a solution: that she kill the prince, allowing her to become a mermaid again. She cannot love him too much, but instead, of dying, she is transformed into a spirit of the air with the promise that she can gain an immortal soul after all.

Thus, Disney jettisoned Andersen's fixation on redemptive suffering and produced a highly entertaining film that takes the original fairy tale simply as a starting point. That's all fine and dandy. What is very interesting, however, is that, at the same time as Disney's adaptation, we get a parallel treatment of "The Little Mermaid" in "My Love, My Love, or The Peasant Girl" (1985) and its adaptation into the Broadway musical "Once on This Island" (1990). (This is missing one of the songs ("Waiting for Life"); I've decided to feature the original cast recording rather than the revival one because it was via the original recording that I got to know and love the musical (and read the novella out of my interest). Also, the fundamentalist part of me prefers the original.) Disney's movie is great, but, if you want to delve deeper into the original fairy tale, here is a whole other world.

"My Love, My Love" takes the ingenious step of setting the story on an island in the French Antilles and recasting the lovers as a black peasant girl and a wealthy, mixed-race city dweller. The little mermaid's deal with the sea witch becomes an agreement with the demon of death, and, once rejected by her "prince" in favor of a wealthy woman of his own social group, she is trampled to death by his wedding guests. This hybrid of fairy tale and social commentary is fascinating, harsh, and heartbreaking. "Once on This Island", very faithful to the novella, adds in a bit more hope (the protagonist, akin to Andersen's mermaid's transformation into a spirit of the air, becomes a tree). It was very successfully revived on Broadway in 2017.

"Once on This Island", without denying the artistic worth of Disney's film, succeeds where Disney failed: it is a musical, lively, delightful adaptation of "The Little Mermaid" that at the same time touches the head with its story of violent injustice and touches the heart with its story of redemption. Real storytelling is like this: a perfect reflection of the human experience that, at the same time, saves what it reflects with a beauty that does not deny the presence of ugliness.

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I Went To "The Bachelor" Auditions

And here's why you won’t be seeing me on TV.

It’s finally time to admit my guilty pleasure: I have always been a huge fan of The Bachelor.

I can readily admit that I’ve been a part of Bachelor fantasy leagues, watch parties, solo watching — you name it, I’ve gone the whole nine yards. While I will admit that the show can be incredibly trashy at times, something about it makes me want to watch it that much more. So when I found out that The Bachelor was holding auditions in Houston, I had to investigate.

While I never had the intention of actually auditioning, there was no way I would miss an opportunity to spend some time people watching and check out the filming location of one of my favorite TV shows.

The casting location of The Bachelor, The Downtown Aquarium in Houston, was less than two blocks away from my office. I assumed that I would easily be able to spot the audition line, secretly hoping that the endless line of people would beg the question: what fish could draw THAT big of a crowd?

As I trekked around the tanks full of aquatic creatures in my bright pink dress and heels (feeling somewhat silly for being in such nice clothes in an aquarium and being really proud of myself for somewhat looking the part), I realized that these auditions would be a lot harder to find than I thought.

Finally, I followed the scent of hairspray leading me up the elevator to the third floor of the aquarium.

The doors slid open. I found myself at the end of a large line of 20-something-year-old men and women and I could feel all eyes on me, their next competitor. I watched as one woman pulled out her travel sized hair curler, someone practiced answering interview questions with a companion, and a man (who was definitely a little too old to be the next bachelor) trying out his own pick-up lines on some of the women standing next to him.

I walked to the end of the line (trying to maintain my nonchalant attitude — I don’t want to find love on a TV show). As I looked around, I realized that one woman had not taken her eyes off of me. She batted her fake eyelashes and looked at her friend, mumbling something about the *grumble mumble* “girl in the pink dress.”

I felt a wave of insecurity as I looked down at my body, immediately beginning to recognize the minor flaws in my appearance.

The string hanging off my dress, the bruise on my ankle, the smudge of mascara I was sure I had on the left corner of my eye. I could feel myself begin to sweat. These women were all so gorgeous. Everyone’s hair was perfectly in place, their eyeliner was done flawlessly, and most of them looked like they had just walked off the runway. Obviously, I stuck out like a sore thumb.

I walked over to the couches and sat down. For someone who for the most part spent most of the two hours each Monday night mocking the cast, I was shocked by how much pressure and tension I felt in the room.

A cop, stationed outside the audition room, looked over at me. After a brief explanation that I was just there to watch, he smiled and offered me a tour around the audition space. I watched the lines of beautiful people walk in and out of the space, realizing that each and every one of these contestants to-be was fixated on their own flaws rather than actually worrying about “love.”

Being with all these people, I can see why it’s so easy to get sucked into the fantasy. Reality TV sells because it’s different than real life. And really, what girl wouldn’t like a rose?

Why was I so intimidated by these people? Reality TV is actually the biggest oxymoron. In real life, one person doesn’t get to call all the shots. Every night isn’t going to be in a helicopter looking over the south of France. A real relationship depends on more than the first impression.

The best part of being in a relationship is the reality. The best part about yourself isn’t your high heels. It’s not the perfect dress or the great pick-up lines. It’s being with the person that you can be real with. While I will always be a fan of The Bachelor franchise, this was a nice dose of reality. I think I’ll stick to my cheap sushi dates and getting caught in the rain.

But for anyone who wants to be on The Bachelor, let me just tell you: Your mom was right. There really are a lot of fish in the sea. Or at least at the aquarium.

Cover Image Credit: The Cut

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11 Amazing TV Shows That Are Ending in 2019

All good things must come to an end.


It might just be the beginning of 2019 but there are many TV series wrapping up already. There are many breathtaking and original pilots around along with several reboots coming. This might be one of the greatest year for TV.

However, all good things must come to an end. Some series have been planned out and are going to be finished while others have been cut short. Sadly, here's a list of TV series to say goodbye to this year.

1. The Big Bang Theory (CBS)

Final Date: May

12 Seasons//279 episodes

2. Orange is the New Black (Netflix)


Final Date: End of 2019

7 seasons//91 episodes

3. Jane the Virgin (CW)


Final Date: Mid-late 2019

5 seasons//100 episodes

4. Games of Thrones (HBO)


Final Date: Summer

8 Seasons//73 episodes

5. Broad City (Comedy Central)

Comedy Central

Final Date: March

5 seasons//50 episodes



Final Date: Spring

7 seasons//67 episodes

7. Homeland (Showtime)


Final date: Summer

8 seasons//96 episodes

8. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)

Final date: January 25

4 seasons//52 episodes

9. The Affair (Showtime)


Final Date: End of 2019

5 seasons//42 episodes

10. Friends From College (Netflix)

Final Date: End of 2019

2 seasons//16 episodes

11. Crashing (HBO)


Final Date: End of 2019

3 seasons//24 episodes

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