Oliver yuh large

By Richard Johnson
Observer senior reporter

Sunday, November 11, 2018

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On November 4 the king of Jamaican comedy Oliver Samuels celebrated his 70th birthday, and the St Mary-born comedian, actor and playwright is giving thanks for his decades on the stage.

Speaking with the Jamaica Observer, Samuels, who has been gracing local and international stages with his brand of Jamaican comedy for nearly half a century, shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.

“I would want to do some writing about the experience over the years, because it's nearly 50 years, and also I really want to go to Africa. It is one of the places I really would want to go and it seems as though it might happen, so let's see what happens with that aspect,” he remarked.

Still an active presence on the theatre scene, Samuels is currently enjoying his latest role in the production 56 East Avenue, which opened in Florida on September 1.

The team — Volier 'Mafie' Johnson, Dennis Titus, Audrey 'Dancehall Queen' Reid and myself — has been one the road and right now we have a new play, 56 East Avenue. It has not been performed in Jamaica but we have performed in Florida at about four locations as well as in Atlanta, and we ready fi tek on the Caribbean. Come December we are taking it home for the Jamaican audience, because people a talk seh it look like mi sell out. How mi fi sell out mi owna country? So we are taking this production to the Jamaican audience come year end.”

Come Friday, Samules will also be bestowed with another accolade.

The Washington-based Institute of Caribbean Studies will award him the Marcus Garvey Lifetime Achievement Award at its 25th Caribbean-American Heritage Awards Gala. Trained at the Jamaica School of Drama, he participated in various productions and has appeared in no fewer than 13 national pantomimes. These include Music Boy, Queenie's Daughter, Dickance for Fippance, Hail Columbus, The Witch, Johnny Reggae, Ginneral B, The Pirate Princess, Trash, The Hon All Purpose and The Dancing Princess. And his work has not been confined to only the stage, he has also exhibited his acting skills on film and television. His screen credits include a role in The Mighty Quinn, which starred two-time Academy Award winner Denzel Washington, and most notably his local television series Oliver at Large. He also appread in the The Fight Against Slavery, a British Broadcasting Corporation TV series, which aired in 1974.

Samuels is also making his maiden voyage as part of the entertainment package aboard the 2019 edition of the Love and Harmony cruise, which will sail from April13 to 18.

“ I am absolutely ready. I've been ready ever since they asked me to be a part of this cruise. What can passenger expect... Wah yuh tink? Humour, humour and more humour; wholesome family humour. It's the team of Frenemy, one of the funniest plays ever to have been done in Jamaica. We still a tour with it after almost two years since we first mounted it.

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