A lot to play for

Saturday, December 24, 2016

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FOR more than 70 years, the National Pantomime has opened at 6 o’clock on Boxing Day. In recent years, a number of producers have followed suit, hoping to tap into the spirit of the Yuletide season.

The pantomime continues its tradition Monday evening. The curtains will rise for The Upsies and Downsies, another family oriented expose of Jamaican culture, written by Barbara Gloudon.

It is Gloudon’s ‘umteenth’ time penning the annual production. She promises another enjoyable event.

"The Upsies are the people with good bank balances and the Downsies are those who are working really hard to secure a future. Up and down clash when the Upsies wish to purchase a plot of land which the Downsies hold dear, and the matter has to be settled with a tug of war," Gloudon explained.

Within all of that, the obligatory love story subplot winds its way into the power struggle. The situation climaxes in a swirl of music, colour, dance and storytelling.

The Upsies and the Downsies runs at the Little Theatre in St Andrew.

Producer David Tulloch is also tapping into the holiday openings. His Phoenix Theatre complex in New Kingston hosts Bad Breed, which opened a few weeks ago. His new production, Across The Bridge, premiered last Friday.

" Bad Breed is a comedy with a cast headed by Terri Salmon and Michael "Stringbean" Nicholson. It tells the story of the relationship between father and son and what happens when a stepmother comes into the picture," Tulloch told the
Jamaica Observer. "
Across The Bridge is inspired by a true story and examines the life and times of Jacob Johnson, a man inspired to become a priest with the aim of saving his mother who is dying of cancer. He would then lose faith when she dies and must find his way back."

Across The Bridge stars Leonie Forbes, Tulloch, Jerry Benzwick and Christine Marshall.

The team at Jambiz International are also in the mix with Frank The Freak which opens at Centerstage Theatre in New Kingston on Boxing Day. Lenford Salmon of Jambiz explained that this production is a Jamaican fairy tale loosely based on the Beauty And The Beast.

"The cast is Glen Campbell, Courtney Wilson, Sakina Deer, Keisha Patterson and Akeem Mignott. There are cameo appearances from Kevin Brown and Annmarie Jumpp in this comedy by Patrick Brown," said Salmon.

The second city, Montego Bay, is not left out of the loop, thanks to the efforts of actress Nadean Rawlins. Donning her producer’s hat, Rawlins’ revue #hashtag is at the Fairfield Theatre.

" #hashtag explores social media as we know it and how it has affected the way we live. This comedy revue will make you sit up and laugh at yourself and your friends and make you readjust your social media standing, or not. Whatever the case, #hashtag is certain to entertain," Rawlins offered.

The cast comprises reigning National Festival Queen Kyesha Randal, David Clarke, Gregory Smith and Sadika Vassel. The production runs December 27 to January 1 as well as Saturdays and Sundays in January.

A Basil Dawkins production is a holiday fixture. This year, he serves up Four Can’t Play.

Douglas Prout and Toni Kay Dawkins direct Oliver Samuels, Ruth Ho Shing, Maylynne Lowe and Dennis Titus in the comedy — a ‘man and woman’ story.

"One young couple heading to a divorce and an elderly couple about to be married have adjoining rooms at a retreat. The real problems of their impending divorce and marriage are thrashed out at the poolside rather than in the counselling sessions, to hilarious effect," said Dawkins.

Four Can’t Play opens on December 27 at the Little Little Theatre.

— Richard Johnson


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