Discusses the Award-Winning Musical "ONCE ON THIS ISLAND"
In an Exclusive Interview with Iride Aparicio

Photos Courtesy: Gary Stanford, Jr.

 SILICON VALLEY, CA --  In a telephone interview with Cultural World Bilingual, GARY  STANFORD, Jr., Director/ Choreographer of  " ONCE ON THIS ISLAND, " (The  2018 TONY® Award-winner musical  for Best Revival of a musical) talks about his presentation of the classical musical, that, on streaming format,  will be available  to the public from December 5, through December 20, 2020.  He introduces himself  to our readers by saying:

"I am a Bay Area native who was born in San Francisco, and has been in performing arts since I was a kid with my younger brother Kevin, because my mother had a performing company.  I started doing Musicals, when I was in High School and had performed in over eighty shows, during my career. I have lived in the Peninsula, in Belmont and now in Woodside for the last eight years.  For fifteen years, I was a computer Engineer (He is a SJSU graduate student in Computer Engineering) but now I am in performing arts professionally. I love performing and feel very blessed to be able to direct the "ONCE ON THIS ISLAND" show during this time when most theaters are shut down. The show has a wonderful staff (from Sunnyvale Community Players). Who helped me get this production on its feet?"

Erzulie - Patricia Pitpitan.jpg

Erzulie Patricia Pitpitan (ONCE ON THIS ISLAND)

C.W.B.  How did you make the transition from actor to Director?

G.S:  "I made the transition by first being a dance choreographer for a number of shows , then by learning how things work behind the scenes, and then, after choreographing for six or seven years,  I was invited to direct BRIGADOON, and that was so much fun that I wanted to direct more shows. "

C.W.B.  If I am correct, you also started your own theatre, didn't you?
G.S. Yes, I started my own theatre company in 20l9. It is called North California Art Collective and my passion now is to bring more actors of color into the performing arts and also to write new shows that use actors of color. That was the reason why I created my own theatre company. I wanted tol be able to do that."

C.W.B. Will you be hiring playwrights?
G.S. "Yes. But I also will be writing some plays myself."

C.W.B.  Where is your theater located?
G.S. "Its business address is my home address in Woodside, but we would love to perform our shows at the MEXICAN HERITAGE PLAZA in San José."

C.W.B. Now, going back to "ONCE ON THIS ISLAND" that I understand you choreographed and will be directing, why did you selected this musical?
G.S.: "I was very passionate about this musical, when I first saw it, because it is one of those few shows that really featured multi-cultural casting and storytelling. I have been doing a lot of research on the African Diaspora in the last few years, and was excited about plays that tell stories about African Culture, about South American Culture. This show actually talks about the French Caribbean, and mixes Afro and Latino cultures together. Culture has been a passion of mine for many years."

C.W.B. What is your vision for this show?

G.S: "My vision of the show is definitely to have a very ethnic cast, which we have achieved. We have Latino, Filipino, African American, and Black actors in the show to represent the roles that require ethnicity. It's been a very interesting summer because we (The show's producers are BRUCE CAMPBELL and BRENDA JACKSON) have been forced to figure out where to perform the show, and how are we going to perform the show (Because of the pandemic) so we found a very unique solution.  We are going to perform it outdoors, on my property. At my house we are building dressing rooms and we are going to build an area for the actors to perform. We have seven hundred pounds of sand so we are building our own beach, and my actors are going to dance barefooted in the sand."

C.W.B. When it opens, will you show it at your house also?
G.S.: "No. On Saturday we are going to video record the entire show and then we are going to release the show to the public ONLINE.  They will be able to purchase a ticket and see it in the internet. The musical is about ninety minutes in length without intermission. It has dancing and lots of lovely songs which integrate island rhythms with African instruments. It is going to be great because for our production we secured the original Broadway's tracks playing the songs.

TICKETS for the Live Streams of ONCE UPON THIS ISLAND are on sale now until December 20th at $24.95 plus $2.70 for Show Tix4U so each ticket is $27.65. Aand after purchasing the ticket, the viewers can access the entire purchased  Live Stream recording up to 4 hours after the event start time.
Tickets are now available through:  and also through

DECEMBER   5, 11, 12,  18,  19,  at  8PM.
DECEMBER  7,  8, 9, l0, 14, 15. 16. 17, at 7PM

You may also contact for more information.