Let the plays begin

By Richard Johnson Observer senior reporter johnsonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, December 14, 2014

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THE local theatre scene is gearing up for its peak season with a total of six productions set to open before year-end, and another two for early 2015.
This represents a slight decline compared to the similar period last year when eight plays opened in the Corporate Area.
December 26 has become the unofficial start of the local theatre year and five productions are vying for the attention of the theatre-going audience on that day.
Since 1941, the National Pantomime has opened for audiences at 6:00 pm. Perennial playwright Barbara Gloudon has penned Princess Boonoonoonoos. The colour, music, and movement of past productions have been maintained in this year’s staging of this entertainment staple.
Leading Jamaican production house Jambiz International also opens its production on Boxing Day. The education system goes under the microscope in Saving Alligator High, according to Jambiz director Lenford Salmon.
“We have assembled the Jambiz cast for this one — Glen Cambell, Sakina Deer, Camille Davis, Courtney Wilson and Sharee McDonald Russell — and although it’s a comedy, in true Jambiz fashion, we must leave our audience thinking and so we are taking a critical look at the education system,” he told the Sunday Observer.
Saving Alligator High will play at Centrestage Theatre.
Oliver Mair’s Laff It Off — the comedy revue returns to the stage.
The production, which ran earlier this year, stars Mark Martin, Rodney Campbell, Oliver Mair, Akeem Mignott, Rushaine ‘Dutty Berry’ Berry, Patria-Kaye Aarons and Simone Clarke-Cooper. The Theatre Place will be home to this production.
Theatre-goers in Montego Bay have not been left out of the offerings. The Fairfield Theatre will see Aston Cooke's Country Duppy.
Directed by multi-Actor Boy-winning actress Nadean Rawlins, Country Duppy will feature Suzanne Beadle, Tony Rodney and Shaurna Miller.
With Boxing Day out of the way, come December 27 it’s Basil Dawkins’ Divorce Papers. A stellar ensemble has been brought together for this production — Oliver Samuels/Teddy Price, Ruth HoShing/Barbara McCalla, Maylynne Lowe and Dennis Titus. Divorce Papers is directed by Douglas Prout and is written/produced by Basil Dawkins.
According to Dawkins, audiences can expect all the elements in this one.
“People are interested in seeing Oliver’s perspective on my work,” Dawkins said. “I have every confidence that he and the rest of the cast, under the direction of Douglas Prout, will not disappoint.”
But even before the December 26 onslaught, the third instalment of the brash comedy, series, Bashment Granny takes to the stage at the Green Gables Playhouse in St Andrew on December 19.
The comedy which has made Keith ‘Shebada’ Ramsey popular, will see him reprising his role. Seasoned actress Terri Salmon makes her Bashment Granny debut and joins, Garfield ‘Bad Bwoy Trevor’ Reid, Maxwell Grant, Junior Williams, Luke Ellington, Monique Ellis and Crystal Fletcher. This production is directed by Bunny Allen and written by Paul Beale.
And 2015 will have its share of openings.
Dahlia Harris’s‚ Ol’ Fire Stick opens on January 23. Described as a romantic comedy, this production stars Volier Johnson, Deon Silvera, Christopher ‘Johnny’ Daley/Desmond Dennis and Dahlia Harris. Harris told the Observer that she has missed the December 26 opening dates due a lack of theatre spaces in the Corporate Area. The Pantry Playhouse closed its doors in August of this year.
In commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the birth of reggae superstar Bob Marley, the Jamaica Musical Theatre Company will premiere their original musical Nesta’s Rock in February of next year.


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