Broadway production (1990)
Once on This Island the Musical - PLOT SYNOPSIS
One stormy night in the Antilles archipelago, thunder booms, making a small girl cry in fear. To comfort her, the village storytellers tell her the story of Ti Moune, a peasant girl who falls in love with a grand homme, Daniel Beauxhomme – a story of life, pain, love, grief, faith, and hope. In this story, four gods (consisting of Asaka: Mother of the Earth, Agwé: god of Water, Erzulie: goddess of Love, and Papa Ge: demon of Death) rule an island known as the Jewel of the Antilles where poor peasants worship them ("We Dance"). The peasants, "black as night", live on one side of the island, and the grands hommes, lighter-skinned descendants of the original French planters and their slaves, live on the other. One night, Agwe unleashes a terrible storm upon the island, which in turn causes a disastrous flood, wiping out many villages. However, the gods save the life of a little orphan named Ti Moune by placing her in a tree above the flood's waves. She is found and subsequently adopted by the peasants Mama Euralie and Tonton Julian ("One Small Girl").
Years afterwards, a grown-up Ti Moune prays to the gods to let her know her purpose, and to let her be like the fast-driving strangers on the roads near her village - the grands hommes ("Waiting for Life"). Hearing her plea, the gods laugh at her. However, Erzulie suggests that they give her love, because it is stronger than any of the other elements. Offended, Papa Ge proposes a bet to prove which is stronger: love or death. Agwe arranges for the car of Daniel Beauxhomme, a young grande homme, to crash during a storm so that Ti Moune may meet Daniel and restore him to health ("And The Gods Heard Her Prayer/Rain"). Despite the objections of the other peasants including her own parents, Ti Moune helps the intruder recover ("Pray"). Ti Moune falls in love with the stranger and as she cares for the unconscious boy, she imagines he loves her too. When Papa Ge comes to take Daniel's life, Ti Moune offers her life in exchange for Daniel's so that he will not die ("Forever Yours"). Papa Ge is angry but leaves, hinting he will return – sooner or later, as her life now belongs to him.
Tonton Julian travels to the other side of the Island to seek Daniel's family at the Hotel Beauxhomme. When he returns, he brings with him some of Daniel's people to take the boy back, as well as the story of Daniel's family: Four generations ago, during the Napoleonic era, a French aristocrat named Armand colonised the island. Although Armand had a wife, he had affairs with several natives, one of which bore him a son, named Beauxhomme. When Beauxhomme grew up, war broke out between the peasant locals and the French. The peasants won the war with Beauxhomme's help, after which he banished Armand back to France. Before leaving, however, Armand cursed Beauxhomme and his descendants saying their "black blood will keep them forever on the island, while their hearts yearn forever for France." To this day the curse causes future Beauxhommes to alienate the peasants for reminding them of their homeland ("The Sad Tale of the Beauxhommes"). Ti Moune is tearfully separated from Daniel and tells her parents that she will go after Daniel to marry him, and though they are reluctant to let her go, they eventually give her their blessing ("Ti Moune"). The goddess Asaka tells Ti Moune not to fear, as the Earth will give her everything she needs on her journey to Daniel ("Mama Will Provide").
Ti Moune travels across the island ("Waiting For Life (Reprise)"), and the storytellers relate the many versions of her difficult journey to the city (including being forced to wear too-tight shoes), through the hotel gates and finding Daniel's room ("Some Say"). Daniel, still ill and unable to walk, does not remember her but believes her after she describes the scar on his chest. As they stay together, Erzulie gives them the gift of love ("Human Heart"). Daniel ignores the townspeople's gossiping ("Pray (Reprise)") over the unlikely relationship between a rich Beauxhomme and a poor peasant. Daniel delights in Ti Moune's differences from the rich girls in his life, noting that "some girls you marry, some you love" ("Some Girls").
At a ball held at the hotel ("The Ball"), Andrea Devereaux, a daughter of Daniel's family friends, cajoles Ti Moune to dance for them (her ulterior motive being to make her look bad in front of the grande hommes). Ti Moune does dance and gains the admiration of the rich society members, inspiring both the peasant servants and the grande homme guests to join her ("Ti Moune's Dance"). Afterwards, Ti Moune learns that Daniel is already engaged to be married to Andrea ("When We Are Wed"). Daniel, reminded of his responsibilities, must go through with the arranged marriage, although he insists they can be lovers forever, leaving Ti Moune crushed. Papa Ge reappears and reminds Ti Moune of her promise to exchange her life for Daniel's – but says she can revoke the bargain if she kills Daniel ("Promises/Forever Yours (Reprise)"). Ti Moune enters Daniel's room with a knife, but she still loves him too much to kill him, proving love is stronger than death. However, Daniel finds Ti Moune with the knife. Appalled at the attempted murder, the Beauxhommes throw her out of the hotel grounds.
Barred from the hotel, Ti Moune waits for two weeks to try and meet Daniel at the gate. As Daniel and Andrea are married, they follow an old tradition of throwing coins to the peasants outside the hotel gates. Ti Moune calls to Daniel who gently places a silver coin in Ti Moune's hand, kisses her cheek, and leaves. The storytellers tell of how the gods were moved to tears by Ti Moune's selflessness and love, and chose to bestow a final kindness on her; Erzulie took her by the hand and led her to the ocean, where Agwé allowed her to drown peacefully. Papa Ge received her gently and brought her back to shore where Asaka transformed her into a tree ("A Part Of Us").
The tree becomes a celebration of life and love that cracks open the gates of the hotel, allowing those of all social statuses to become one, including a peasant girl and a young grande homme, Daniel's son, as they play in her branches. As the years go by, the story of Ti Moune is told again and again, passed down through generations as proof of the power of love and stories to bring people together. As the musical ends, the little girl who was frightened by the storm begins to retell the story herself ("Why We Tell The Story").
Read more: Once on This Island the Musical Lyrics
Synopsis to Once on This Island musical Plot