Choreographer Kenrick ‘H20’ Sandy Talks … Once On This Island

Once On This Island opens Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre’s summer season.

Adapted from the 1985 novel My Love, My Love; or, The Peasant Girl by Trinidadian-American author Rosa Guy, award-winning musical Once On This Island has a cast including Gabrielle Brooks (Get Up Stand Up! The Bob Marley Musical) and Olivier nominated actor, Lejaun Sheppherd (Come From Away). The story directed by the multi-award winning Ola Ince (Tina – The Tina Turner Musical), and described as one of ‘love, grief, faith and hope‘ follows peasant girl Ti Moune, a boy called Daniel, and a union that prejudice forbids. Set under the heat of the Caribbean sun and destruction of tropical storms, Ti Moune is forced to the wager with the Gods, to prove that love is more powerful than death.

We spoke to Choreographer Kenrick ‘H20’ Sandy …

Please introduce yourself … 

My name is Kenrick H2O Sandy, I am a choreographer, performer and co-artistic director of Boy Blue. I am from the good ol’ East London.

Why Once On This Island?

I worked on it because it was the opportunity to work with a full Black cast. Creatives of colour and to work in an open-air theatre. Ola got in touch with me directly to be a part of it.

Tell us about your team …

The team are a bunch of talented people with heart and vision. I don’t depend on anyone as I believe we all have to have independency towards bringing servitude and support to our fellow workers.  We also should show appreciation to each other when that servitude and support is given to us. This is why I find it difficult to name names as at some point in this process I have felt that from everyone in the team and cast. Affirmations to all.

Working with the stage space at Regents Park Open Air Theatre how does it affect the choreography, is there anything else you need to consider with it being outside?

The weather and the scale of the auditorium play a huge factor. Everything has to be projected, animated and articulated. You sometimes have to think big for the intention within the movement to be received. 

What does the story of Once On This Island mean to you personally?

The depth of the play continuously reminds me that racism, colourism and discrimination has and still effects our world, whether that be on a large scale or small scale. It also triggers me in regards to the grief I have experienced in my life but then also reminds me that love conquers death.

Tell us about a challenging moment during this project that you had to dig deep to get through it. 

First of all, time. Secondly sustaining grace, humanity, communication, active listening, accountability and affirmations with a big team. We have to remember we are humans before we are our roles.

Once On This Island – Ensemble – Image Credit: Marc Brenner

Tell us a memorable moment from rehearsal?

When the whole cast did the first vocal warm-up call. I was in absolute awe of their talent as individuals and as a collective.

What best defines what you love about this project?

I don’t have a favourite scene, too many beautiful moments within the play to pick one.

Considering your career evolution, where does this project sit on your checklist?

Where I’m at now in my career I question everything I do, this was an opportunity to see whether I want to continue working in the musical theatre sector.

What’s next?

I’m working with my co artistic directors Michael ‘Mikey J’ Asante, Danny Boyle, Es Devlin and Sabrina Mahfouz on a new piece based on The Matrix that will be opening a new building in Manchester called Factory International. The name of the production is Free Your Mind it will be out in October 2023.

How do we keep up to date with you and your work?

Instagram: @kenrickh2osandy @boyblueent

Once On This Island runs until 10th June @ Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre


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