SUPER DAD: Bennett and daughters Fiona and Katrina sharing a proud family moment at King's House. Below, a Bob Marley art sketch.
For the 85-year-old Doug Bennett, it would seem that his life in the theatre has come full circle yet continues to flourish. Lately, the Jamaica Junior Theatre Company, which he founded back in the eighties as a companion troupe to the Jamaica Musical Theatre Company (and continues to serve as Chairman), is hard at work, aiming to create a masterpiece with their forthcoming 2015 show, Nesta's Rock, debuting in January.
The biggest thrill for Bennett about the whole thing is not just in getting to bring this thoroughly modern and original musical production about the young Bob Marley to Jamaican audiences, but in the opportunity for the company to team up with Tuff Gong International and, by extension, the Marley clan. "We are all delighted that the JMTC is partnering with them," Bennett tells TALLAWAH. "They had seen what a very fine job we made of Aladdin, and when they saw that they invited us to join with them in sort of recognizing Bob Marley as a youngster."
Of course, Bob's meteoric rise from humble beginnings in Nine Mile and Trench Town to global superstardom will figure heavily in the story and is a genius idea for a show, but the aim, the Chairman emphasizes, is to mine something deeper.
"It's not just about him being a youngster but about the sort of life he led and how he solved his problems with music. That's the thinking behind it," explains Bennett, later pointing out that Nesta's Rock will mark the company's 157th production and will draw on the combined efforts of the enthusiastic junior theatre actors, singers and dancers and their senior JMTC counterparts. "I think it's going to be great fun. The cast is on a very hard rehearsal schedule and the performers are getting deeper and deeper into it."
Green-lighting a Bob Marley musical aside, the highlight of Doug Bennett's year has got to be the National Order of Distinction (Commander Class) he was presented with at King's House earlier this week, while getting to share the grand moment with the two people dearest to his heart — daughters Fiona Machado and Katrina Marzouca. "It means a great deal to me because I've spent a lot of time in theatre, and I've seen the Jamaica Musical Theatre Company build up theatre in Jamaica for both the adults and the youngsters," he reflects. "We've given a great deal of money to charity, we've won a lot of awards, but what's truly wonderful is what we've been able to create for the young people."