Arts & Culture

Ho Lung showcases Jamaica's music forms

BY BRIAN BONITTO
Associate Editor —
Auto & Entertainment
bonittob@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

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Jamaica's diverse musical offerings will form the soundtrack of Parables, the latest production by Father Ho Lung and Friends, scheduled for the Little Theatre in St Andrew this weekend.

“It's a new script. It's very dramatic, very powerful... Parables has six mini-Caribbean operas, each one is set to the music of reggae, ska, Nyabinghi, revival, and dancehall. Each of the stories is dramatic,” Father Richard Ho Lung, head of the downtown-based Missionaries of the Poor, told the Jamaica Observer.

“Guests are going to have a marvellous evening of meaningful music, filled with drama and colour... It will open our eyes to see life and its purpose, while showcasing the sheer variety and beauty of Jamaica's rhythm,” he continued.

Nyabinghi is the oldest of the Mansions of Rastafari. The music, heavily dependent on its infectious drumming and chants, has influenced ska, rocksteady and reggae.

Ska originated in the late 1950s and is the precursor to rocksteady and reggae.

Revival music involves singing, drumming, hand-clapping and dancing. It includes music and songs from orthodox religion. It is found mainly in the parishes of Kingston, St Andrew, St Catherine, St Elizabeth and St Ann.

According to the Catholic priest, the production follows the biblical stories of Blind Bartimaeus, who was healed by Jesus as he left Jericho; King David, who was 'blinded' by adultery; the rich man and Lazarus; the Prodigal Son; the pestilences that befell Egypt; and Jesus' victory and power over the demonic boy.

“A lot of dancing will be used to tell the stories,” he said.

The cast of Parables includes Carlos Henry, Romario Ricketts, and Leighton Jones. The behind-the-scenes crew include: costume design — Clayton Gidden; director — Gregory Thames; lighting — Robin Baston; choreographer — Paula Shaw; and musical director — Winton Williams.

Started in 1981, Missionaries of the Poor is a Jamaica-based religious institute of brothers that offers free service to needy people. Over the years, Father Ho Lung and his Missionaries of the Poor have raised millions of dollars for various charities through the staging of musical productions. Missions are located in Jamaica, Kenya, Uganda, India, Haiti, The Philippines, the USA, and, East Timor.

“All proceeds from our plays go towards the poor and destitute. The productions are major fundraisers for us to take care of the needy, as there is no charge to them. And we do not accept money from the government,” he said.

Last year's production, Queen Esther, was nominated for 16 Actor Boy Awards. The Actor Boy Awards recognises excellence in local theatre. The musical won three trophies: Best Costume Designer, Best Choreographer, and Best Musical.

Parables will run over two weekends: August 18-19 and August 25-26.

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