RapidBlog: Once on This Island, by City High students

City High students Lance Dreisbach and Grace Oxford share their thoughts from behind the curtain as they rehearse for the school's upcoming production of the musical Once on This Island, set to run November 21-23 at City High Auditorium.
Lance Dreisbach is a senior at City High School who loves math and science, playing trombone and intends to pursue engineering in college. He currently is the male lead role in City High’s Once on this Island. Lance has a twin brother Matt who is also involved in the production. He is currently in the process of earning his Eagle Scout badge and this has taught him how to be a leader and a team player.

Last year I found myself in the pit orchestra happily playing trombone for City High’s productions. A self-described “geeky kid” that enjoys math, the pit was my safe haven – making music and helping where I could behind the scenes. I loved every minute of meticulously practicing the score with other skilled musicians. To my disappointment, I learned that this fall’s musical would not a have a part for trombone. I knew I wanted to be involved with the musical and this meant stepping out of my comfort zone.

I jumped in and gathered my courage to try out for a part in the production. Surprising the directors and myself, the audition went well. I was cast as the lead male role and I still have a hard time figuring out what happened that day. The role, however, is not what makes my experience so enjoyable; it’s the people I have had the pleasure to work with during practice.  I find myself looking forward to rehearsal and it is now the best part of my day.

Fast forward two months, and the stage fright I experienced early on has melted away. Since my audition, I’ve learned a lot about my limitations and the voice that the directors must have heard in me then. It feels like I am close to being ready for opening night. My twin brother Matt is the Tech Director, so I know he will help calm our nerves. I anxiously anticipate when the curtain goes up and we work together to tell our story.


Grace Oxford began piano at the age of 3 with the encouragement from her musical family. Her father, Jeff Oxford, is a local singer/songwriter. Grace has participated in theater through most of her school years with performances at the Grand Rapids Civic Theater. In addition, she has studied Irish dance and Opera workshop. Grace is interested in Cultural Anthropology, which she believes ties into theater. She says, “I can see how people act towards friends and use it as subject matter for theater.” Grace has an older sister, Emily, who currently attends college in Massachusetts.

Once on this Island
is raw, provocative, and full of twists and turns. It touches on every subject - from gossip to marriage to discrimination. My character, Andrea, is part of the upper class and she cares about her social status. She is happy for her carefree life and cannot truly appreciate what it is like to be less fortunate. In fact, it has been arranged that she marry the richest man on the island, Daniel. The trouble begins when Andrea realizes she has fallen in love with Ti Moune, a peasant.  She thought her life was all planned out but it becomes evident that it has quickly derailed.

What I appreciate about Andrea is that she is a real character. Just like many people, the threat of losing her lover has taken her aback. She will do almost anything to ensure Daniel stays by her side. She is compelled to show him that she is better than the peasant. Becoming Andrea on stage requires seeing things through totally different eyes. It makes me wonder what it would feel like to walk in her shoes.

The production is a sensational show for everyone. There is fun dancing, beautiful singing, and the marvelous storyline. The set designer has previously created backdrops for Disney and it feels like we are transported to the French Antilles. The audience can sit back and watch and be drawn into all the emotions. My job of promoting the production is easy because it is a beautiful show that entertains from start to finish. Won’t you join us?

Once on This Island will be performed at City High Auditorium November 21-23. Directed by Daniel and Ella Morgan, the show features a cast of 70 students in grades 7-12 in addition to a student technical crew and pit orchestra. 

Disclaimer: RapidBlogs are lightly edited and honor the stylistic decisions of the writer. Views and opinions expressed in RapidBlogs do not necessarily reflect the views of Rapid Growth Media or its staff.

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