Entertainment

PASSAGE - DOUGLAS BENNETT

2017 Entertainment Highlights

Sunday, December 31, 2017



On October 30, the country lost one of the giants of local theatre. Douglas Bennett, the chairman of the Jamaica Musical Theatre Company (JMTC), died at the University Hospital of the West Indies in St Andrew. He was 88.

Playwright David Tulloch spoke of Bennett's selflessness.

“He was instrumental in me starting my career. When I joined the JMTC at 14, he was the chairman... He's a legend, caring, and believes in your talent. He was selfless,” Tulloch told the Jamaica Observer.

The Scottish-born Bennett, who had lived in Jamaica for more than 50 years, helmed the popular theatre group and its youth arm, the Jamaica Junior Musical Theatre Company, since the early 1980s after there was a motion to dissolve the company.

In an interview with the Observer, Bennett recalled that moment.

“It was the annual general meeting of the JMTC, just ahead of its 21st anniversary, and there was a motion on the floor to disband the company. I was totally against such a move and, therefore, got up off my hind legs and objected to the motion. I guess I was that convincing that we received a vote of confidence rather than a death sentence,” he recalled.

Over the years, the JMTC has received a lot of flack over the types of production it stages. Its productions have primarily been remounts of Broadway musicals.

“Everybody else is doing Jamaican productions, so my position has always been, why not introduce our young people to other types of shows? Jamaicans can be proud of our local theatre. It is exciting, vibrant and varied. It showcases all aspects of Jamaican life and affords us the opportunity to be exposed. I am proud to have been associated with theatre over the years,” he asserted.

Bennett is survived by four children — Anna, Kristina, Fiona and Donald; grandchildren, other relatives and a host of friends.

— Richard Johnson

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