JMTC kicks off Christmas season

Entertainment

JMTC kicks off Christmas season

BY RICHARD JOHNSON
Observer senior reporter
johnsonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, December 08, 2019

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There is something about Jamaican Christmas music that adds a certain punch to the season. This could be felt at the annual holiday concert staged by the Jamaica Musical Theatre Company (JMTC) at Alhambra Inn, in St Andrew, last Sunday.

The 15-voice choir took the audience on a varied musical journey with traditional music for the season as well as songs from the stage and screen, but the concert truly got the lift it so needed when the choir performed two Christmas favourites by the late Noel Dexter. With Henry “Jimmy” Anglin on drums, Never a Baby and Sing De Chorus took on a life of their own, and the energy was felt by the performers and audience alike.

This injection of local music came at the end of the first half which saw a mixed bag in terms of the quality of the performances. Some of the works would have benefited from a few more rehearsals before being put to an audience. This would have allowed for tweaking and the setting of the correct levels for vocalist versus accompaniment. Thankfully there were moments to redeem these missteps.

Director Christine MacDonald-Nevers clearly has a penchant for introducing her audience to works that have never been heard before, or at least not in a long time. This affects the audience in two ways, those who appreciate or those who feel disgust, as they are not familiar.

The JMTC is all about musical theatre and therefore the concert was replete with music from this genre. Popular musicals such as West Side Story, The King and I, Show Boat, Aspects of Love, and The Fantasticks all made it onto the JMTC programme last Sunday.

The soloists each brought their own touch to these performances. Samantha Hamilton's One Hand, One Heart was a commendable effort. Originally written as a duet, her soft tones conveyed the emotion and tenderness of the piece from West Side Story. Contralto Marilyn Brice MacDonald has been a staple on the local scene for a number of years. The higher register of her voice continues to be in good form, and she used it to her advantage in Something Wonderful from The King and I. Grace Smith earned a well-deserved applause for God Bless Us Everyone; the exciting denouement clearly made a good impression on the audience.

There was excitement from the beginning once Collette Cunningham Myrie stepped up to present Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man from Showboat. Flavoured with the African American intonation required for the piece, she was dramatic and effective in sharing her love with her audience. The drama continued after the piece ended when she declared:”There he is,” pointing to her husband sitting in the audience, much to the amusement of the audience.

MacDonald-Nevers switched from conducting duties to share the cheeky Someone is Sending Me Flowers, before Debbie Campbell offered Love Changes Everything. Campbell's soft voice was often drowned by the volume of the accompaniment. For a voice that delicate, the piano should be for maintaining timing and key rather than melody.

The evening's guest performers One Accord — a nine-member a capella group — added another layer to the evening. Their renditions of O Little Town of Bethlehem and Great Day were well balanced and showcased their refreshing tone.

The first Sunday of December has become a standard on the calendar for the JMTC each year. With this concert out the way, it is safe to say the Christmas concert season has begun.


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