By REBECCA LEFTWICH

Papa Ge (Walter Lloyd) and Asaka (Carina Crumbly) have very different plans for an orphaned island girl, Ti Moune.
REBECCA LEFTWICH / THE NEWNAN TIMES-HERALD

Young actors from East Coweta High School are busy preparing to retell the calypso-flavored legend of Ti Moune, who was destined to love too much for the human heart to bear.

The musical “Once on This Island” will be at the Nixon Centre for Performing and Visual Arts May 9-11.

The show opens with storytellers comforting a frightened child during a violent storm on a Caribbean island. They recount the legend of Ti Moune, an orphan girl chosen by the gods and saved for a special destiny by Asaka, mother of the Earth.

Ti Moune, a dark-skinned peasant girl, rescues wealthy Daniel Beauxhomme, the son of light-skinned, French-descended landowners, after a car crash. Because of a centuries-old feud between the Beauhommes and Papa Ge – the Demon of Death – Ti Moune offers her soul to Papa Ge if he will let Daniel live.

The couple falls in love, but as Daniel recovers from the accident, he unwittingly dooms Ti Moune by deciding to fulfill his obligation to marry his rich fiancé. Papa Ge tells the devastated Ti Moune she can save herself, but only if she is willing to kill Daniel. She refuses, and eventually is claimed by Papa Ge.

The tragic tale was an intentional departure from the types of spring musicals usually presented by East Coweta, according to director Scott Ondovchik.

“Our shows are usually musical comedies, so we were looking for something different that would still showcase the talents of our students,” he said.

Despite the tragic nature of the show, the idea that true love can conquer the fear of death helps it end on a positive note – and the music certainly doesn’t hurt, Ondovchik said.

“The score is beautiful and the theme of the story is a great lesson for everyone,” he said. “We are very excited to present this show.”

Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door for “Once on This Island.” Showtimes are 7 p.m. Advance tickets are available at www.echostage.info .