Jon Williams says there is hope in theatre music
Where others see dark clouds over the local music industry, Jon Williams sees a silver lining in theatre music.
"Yes, the whole economy is slowing down, but what we have to do is to redesign our offerings, expand into newer areas and other types of offerings," Williams suggests.
The music arranger/producer/businessman uses the success of his own company, Almond Productions — a fully digital multi-media recording facility — as an example of how to survive in an evolving music environment.
"We just need to spread ourselves wider and do all types of newer stuff — radio, television, film and theatre. At Almond, we develop tracks, we record, we take it through to airplay, and we write scores for orchestra and so on," he relates.
"We offer packages that we know will suit a wider and expanding customer base."
Williams believes that theatrical music offers an expansive and rewarding clientele, who may have been missing out because of their aversion to more modern genres.
For the past few weeks, he has been working with playwright Patrick Brown, on a project he thinks should help boost local entertainment.
They have collaborated on the songs for Brown's latest production, Glass Slippaz, which opened on Boxing Day at the Centerstage Theatre in New Kingston.
Williams and Almond Productions have worked with the Little Theatre Movement (LTM), producers of the annual pantomime, Father Ho Lung and Friends, the Jamaica Musical Theatre Company (JMTC) and the University of the West Indies (UWI), in blending Jamaican music.
He agrees that Glass Slippaz could well be the game changer they have been seeking for the past decade.
"It is not only the artistes and actors who are expanding themselves, people are expanding in taste too, and there are people who love the theatre but are not fans of newer music genres who will come to the play and get to like the music, and people who like the music and come to play and get to like the theatre," he explained.
He says that this creates opportunities for developing a much larger Jamaican theatre audience, and a wider ethnic market in the Jamaican Diaspora, which will open doors to wider distribution and more international attention.