Friday, 15 November 2019

THE BEAUTY PAGE: Joanna Johnson’s fly-girl essentials / More fruits for better mental health? / The ‘chilling’ effect

STAR QUALITY: From School of Drama to working in television (CVM’s Joint Tenants) to making strides in local theatre, actress Joanna Johnson has never failed to leave a lingering impression on both critics and audiences. This season, she burns a hole in the stage as the temperamental diva Becky in a remount of the hit gospel play Amazing Grace. Johnson, a 29-year-old natural who loves travelling, is now eyeing a foray into the film world and, fingers crossed, landing her first New York role someday soon. “I’ve been watching a lot of Broadway shows,” she tells TALLAWAH. “I hope to get to that level.” In the meantime, here are the beauty essentials helping her stay at the top of her game.

>> Face: Cetaphil moisturizer. “It’s great because I have such sensitive skin.”
>> Body: Jergen’s lotion.
>> Hair: Kantu’s natural line. “When I want to wear a weave, I’ll go with the straight extensions. I like wearing them with a side part.”
>> Perfume: Million. “The male version smells really, really nice. (Laughs).”

YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT: According to a recent study by Social Science & Medicine, even one extra daily serving of fruits and vegetables has the same soothing effect as eight days of long walks. As the study further points out, the researchers aren’t certain why but they do share that participants reported mental well-being just as high after eating more produce as after doing other calming activities.

COOL IT: Keeping your eye creams and gels chilled in the fridge can work wonders for your beauty game, especially when temperatures soar, according to Woman’s World. Per the mag’s beauty editors, patting cold creams or gels under the eyes quickly eases any puffiness caused by the heat while flushing out the trapped fluids that pool under your eyes. For more beat-the-heat benefits, they also recommend that you ‘chill’ your sunscreen, toning sprays, face masks and perfumes – to leave skin feeling cool and utterly refreshed.

50-SECOND MOVIE REVIEW: Harriet is an engrossing biopic and essential history lesson

RUN TO THE RIVER: Erivo (centre) leads a strong ensemble cast, including Odom Jr. and Monae

DID you know that the name Harriet Tubman was actually her mother’s name, which she took as her own when she became a free woman after fleeing to Philadelphia to avoid being sold? That’s one of the most fascinating facts from the new movie Harriet, which offers a compelling, deeply affecting cinematic rendering of the famed freedom fighter’s story.

If nothing else, this narrative (directed by Kasi Lemmons) epitomizes ‘strength of a woman’ as we follow the tale of ‘Minty’ (her original name) from rebellious slave girl in Dorchester County, Maryland to free woman to key member of the Underground Railroad committee, who made it their business to liberate scores of slaves from plantations and sun-baked fields across the United States.

Broadway star-turned-screen actress Cynthia Erivo turns in a bravura performance (sure to cop an NAACP Image Award nomination), portraying Tubman as a warrior, a woman of fierce determination and steely grit, who battles her way through vicious prejudice and racism, heartbreak (her husband remarries believing her escape had ended tragically) and countless other odds to do the work her spirit led her to do – and to reunite, at last, with her loved ones. 

Leslie Odom Jr., Joe Alwyn and Janelle Monae are strong standouts in the supporting cast. Tyrone’s Verdict: B+

Saturday, 9 November 2019

SOCIETY, SOCIETY: Cedella is on a winning streak … Gleaner appoints 2nd female Editor-in-Chief … PJ Patterson recuperating…

>> Undoubtedly, Cedella Marley makes our Top 5 Women of the Year list, after racking up several new accomplishments, including her strides with the Bob Marley Group of Companies (a new Marley musical is in the works), the release of her third children’s book, and recently copping the Bush Doctor Award at the Peter Tosh Awards. Cedella was in great company, alongside Steve DeAngelo, Douglas Gordon and Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange, who were also honoured during the ceremony at Villa Ronai. 

>> And speaking of Cedella and Babsy, we join them in offering deepest condolences to the JFF and the bereaved family of slain female footballer Tarania Clarke, who lost her life quite gruesomely (following a stabbing incident) last Thursday in Half Way Tree. Clarke, who turned 20 in October and has played with the Reggae Girlz and club side Waterhouse FC, was expected to commence studies at an overseas college in January. 

>> Former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson, who was involved in a vehicular accident at his upper St. Andrew home last month, is said to be on the mend. We wish him a full and speedy recovery. 

>> The Gleaner Company has hired its second-ever female Editor-in-Chief. Kaymar Jordan, an award-winning career journalist from Barbados, took up the post on November 1. She succeeds Garfield Grandison (now the paper’s general manager) and follows in the footsteps of Wyvolyn Gager, their first female EIC. Jordan will be spearheading the newspaper’s upgrade of it print, digital and multimedia platforms. 

>> Team work made the dream work, says Thalia Lyn, in response to her recent induction into the PSOJ Hall of Fame. “It has been an amazing journey with my Island Grill team, and with a number of my long-term team members,” she said. “It is entirely to the credit of my ‘Supaah’ family that this beloved Jamaican brand is such a success.” Toast!

MUSIC OF THE NIGHT: ‘Way Off Broadway’ thrills concertgoers with showtunes and songs from the movies

WELL TUNED: Strachan and Harris led a terrific ensemble at the concert.

IT’s always an enormous delight when Jamaicans give their regards to Broadway. The faculty of the School of Music (Edna Manley College) put on a splendid two-night concert, dubbed ‘Way Off Broadway,’ inside the college’s Vera Moody Hall on the weekend, offering interpretations of modern classics and the kind of showtunes that draw standing ovations.

Into the Woods started things off, with the ensemble (lecturers portraying the baker, his wife, Jack and Little Red), giving a spirited take on the blame-game number “Your Fault,” after which Ana Strachan (as the witch) belted out “Last Midnight,” displaying the kind of vocal prowess for which she’s become known.

Up next, the exuberant “One” from A Chorus Line, followed by June Lawson channelling immense feeling into her rendition of “What I Did for Love.” Trevelle Clarke-Whyne managed to further raise the bar with her powerhouse lead on the hyper-rhythmic “Mama Will Provide” from Once on This Island.

Stephen Sondheim’s beloved masterpiece Company was also in the mix, providing great material for tenor Andre Adman, who performed an almost pitch-perfect “Being Alive,” before Strachan (the officiating celebrant), Carl Lee Scharschmidt (playing the groom) and Ruth Browne (as the reluctant bride) gave a droll send-up of “Getting Married Today.”

Who knew Kiss of the Spider Woman had been turned into musical? “Dear One” (about confinement and the pain of separation) got a haunting interpretation from Lawson, with supporting vocals from Adman, Strachan and Michael Sean Harris. 

Harris then put on his crown and dancing shoes for a rousing interpretation of “You’ll Be Back” from Hamilton, the acclaimed hip-hop-infused show about the American founding father, which also carries such high-voltage songs as “Wait for It,” a great showcase for Scharschmidt’s crisp, appealing vocals. 

Of course, a selection from Wicked had to be included. Browne and Harris were in their element singing “For Good,” full of soaring vocals and palpable emotion, setting the stage for Browne’s bring-them-to-their-feet performance of “Never Enough” and Trevelle Clarke-Whyne’s solid lead on “This Is Me” – both from the Hugh Jackman flick The Greatest Showman. In short, Way off Broadway was more than an enormous delight. Concertgoers got a splendid feast of musical theatre.

Thursday, 7 November 2019

HOT TOPIC: Did Juliet Holness go too far with her ‘sexy prime minister’ comments?

HOTTEST COUPLE: Andrew and Juliet Holness greet the cameras during one of their public appearances.

YOU can say this for Mrs. Juliet Holness MP: she stands by her man. Last Sunday, she told a throng of JLP faithful in St. Catherine: “We lucky we have a young prime minister, a prime minister whose body is tight and firm, who sexy cyaah done… A prime minister who can run, who intellectual and can work… and nuh sleepy sleepy.” Since then, the court of public opinion has been divided over her comments (“inappropriate,” “humorous”), sparking newspaper columns and letters to the editor. 

>> FOR 
Mark Wignall’s take: “In Jamaica we are used to our male politicians ‘bigging up’ their wives on the political podium… In this instance, a strong young Jamaican woman, who just so happened to be an elected member of parliament and is also wife of the prime minister, has proudly proclaimed that her man, her husband, has the intellect of a sage and the physical hardware to conquer any hill… Politics is a trade show. The message must be wrapped in happy colours, and the delivery presented to earn the best theatrical reviews. Juliet Holness knows this.” 

Gleaner letter writer P. Chin’s take: “I wonder how Mrs. Holness would feel as a woman, a wife and a mother if her husband spoke about her like that while campaigning, describing her sex appeal and looks as an attribute for representational politics. It might sound funny in the moment, but it was in poor taste, and those who condone the comments are just as bad… Mrs. Holness should remember that she is the wife of the prime minister and first lady. She is a role model that many young people do look up to!” 

TALLAWAH’s take: A young and healthy prime minister with the stamina to go the distance in shark-infested waters – and a strong, supportive (and hilarious) wife by his side? Jamaica is very fortunate indeed.

AT THE MOVIES: Downton Abbey pours on the wit, drama and lots of sparkle

GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER: Smith, Carmichael and other cast members reprise their roles for Downton's big-screen debut.

THE avidly anticipated arrival of members of the royal family can really make people lose their minds. The evidence abounds in Downton Abbey: The Movie, a hugely enjoyable big-screen adaptation of the beloved British television series. The major highlight is a planned visit by King George V (Simon Jones) and Queen Mary (Geraldine James), who will be staying at the big house during a tour of Yorkshire.

To say that pandemonium ensues is a masterpiece of an understatement. As someone points out, with preparations for these kinds of occasions, there’s always a fa├žade of grace and serenity on the surface and demented kicking below. And nothing could be further from the truth, as the house’s upstairs/downstairs set-up roars to life. Everybody has a role to play.

Of course, it’s the servants and footmen who have to do the heavy lifting, determined to put their best forward. But what catches them completely off guard is the news that their services won’t be required during the visit. The royal staff intend to handle everything, pushing the Downton staff into the background on their own turf! The stage is set for a huge fight, complete with devious little games and tricks.

Meantime, the lords and ladies of the house, including the Earl of Grantham, Robert Crawley (Hugh Bonneville), Lady Grantham, Cora Crawley and their lovely daughters Mary (Michelle Dockery) and Edith (Laura Carmichael) and the imperious Dowager Countess, Violet (Dame Maggie Smith), also have their hands full, grappling with matters both personal and pertaining to the visit.

There’s never a dull moment. Other highlights: Mr. Carson’s (Jim Carter) return to the big house, Tom Branson’s (Allen Leech) heroics and Thomas’ (Robert James-Collier) run-in with the law during a frisky boys’ night out. 

In the end, the Downton Abbey movie (penned by Julian Fellowes and directed by Michael Engler) is a real treat for loyal fans of the hit TV show and for those who hadn’t the foggiest idea that sarcasm is the lowest form of wit. Tyrone’s Verdict: B+

Monday, 4 November 2019

CRITIC’S NOTEBOOK: Spotlight on some 2019 Best Actor and Best Actress hopefuls

AS promised, this week we’re kicking off our annual rundown of the performances and productions that left such an impression on us that we deem them worthy of consideration for awards-season honours. We start things off with the leads:


We’re still raving about Michael ‘Stringbeans’ Nicholson’s captivating turn in Pit to Pulpit as a soon-to-be-ordained pastor with some shocking family secrets..... Straight Jacket has no shortage of domestic drama either, with Glen Campbell in fine form as a loving husband devastated to learn that, due to an episode from his wife’s past, another man may have fathered their only child….. John Chambers, meanwhile, could earn his first nomination in this category for his impressive work in It Stops Here as a brutish married man who uses his money to control his frustrated mistress and her greedy mother….. Quite similarly, Rodney Campbell did some of the strongest work of his career in Feminine Justice as an arrogant and abusive husband who meets his maker….. Not to be outshone, Stephen-Rhae Johnson took on the tragic Biblical prophet in the musical Isaiah with splendid results; Kadeem Wilson delivered some standout work as a barber with woman trouble in Special Cuts; Brian Johnson was simply enigmatic as a diligent Christian brother with issues in Yours, Truly; and Francois Medley hit all the right notes in Jesus Christ Superstar.


Sabrina Thomas brought the house down playing the nurturing but no-nonsense business partner Tina in Special Cuts….. Petrina Williams (Behind the Pulpit) gave a superlative turn as a newly appointed bishop grappling with opposition….. In Straight Jacket, Nadean Rawlins won us over with a first-rate performance as a wife whose past comes back to haunt her….. Maylynne Lowe was electric as an abused wife who gets some sweet revenge in Feminine Justice….. Aisha Davis stunned as the posh single mother/ go-getter whose daughter goes missing in Ananda Alert, opposite young Crystal Fletcher, who gave the most emotionally precise performance of her career so far; and Rosie Murray could return to the race this year, thanks to her clever portrayal of a ‘material girl’ in It Stops Here.

Stay tuned…