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Ho Lung's Parables worth watching

By Richard Johnson
Observer senior reporter

Thursday, August 30, 2018

THERE were major changes to the annual theatrical production by Father Ho Lung and Friends. Father Richard Ho Lung, head of The Missionaries of the Poor, chose The Parables — highlighting well-known stories from the Bible.

However, some things were missing.

First, there was a change of venue. Patrons have become accustomed to the production being held at the National Arena in St Andrew. Father Ho Lung and his team were at the much smaller Little Theatre, and that came with logistical changes.

The contracted space did not allow for the epic sets which are a trademark of a Ho Lung and Friends production. Instead, it was a minimalist set with a riser across the stage.

The show's format also had an overhaul.

For the first half, the production team pulled a number of parables, created stories and skilfully wove them together, thanks to three narrators. Accompanied by the music of long-time Musical Director Wynton Williams the stories were entertaining, even if they lacked the strong appeal of previous productions.

The Parables certainly does not hit the mark attained by previous efforts such as Moses, Acts of The Apostles, The Messiah, and King David.

For the other half, the audience was presented with songs from productions past as well as other performances, including a corps of drummers. Tracks such as Praise Him, I'm Free, a lustrous rendition of I Will Serve You by a quartet, and the popular Building A House were appreciated.

There were some constants. No presentation of this kind is complete without Father Ho Lung taking the stage. This year he showed his agility by participating in a song and dance routine much to the delight of the audience.

His skit Runkus Soup was also well-received.

Despite not one of their stronger productions, The Parables maintains some of the valued tenets which make it worth the watch. The music is of high standard; the chorus, which included the experienced Rohan Jacques, Leighton Jones, Nicholas Clarke and Caryl Constantine, was impressive.

Stories from the Bible and ways in which they can be adapted to contemporary situations always makes a Father Ho Lung show worth it, but perhaps the biggest quality of the production occurs offstage. The star attraction is really the cause — the work done by Ho Lung and his Missionaries of the Poor for the destitute.

The Parables will have an extended run in October. The production heads to the Courtleigh Auditorium in New Kingston for two weekends on October 13, 14, 20 and 21.