FAN CLUB: "It's been a fantastic experience," shares Perkins (centre), posing for pictures with fans at the Little Theatre.
In modern Jamaican theatre you seldom hear of an actor landing a plum lead role in his/her pantomime debut. But that's exactly what Antoinette Perkins did last August, when she beat out dozens of other talented girls all vying for the all-important title role, aka Miss Lovely, in Princess Boonoonoonoos, and the chance to deliver a showstopping performance on one of the biggest local stages. As everyone will attest, Perkins doesn't disappoint, and her spunky turn in the spotlight is one of the show's highlights.
A 29-year-old grad of the St. Joseph's Teachers' College, the Mico University and, before that, the Alpha Academy, Perkins spends her nine-to-five hours in her Grade Four classroom at St. John the Baptist Prep and is a voracious reader, who has taken it upon herself to kick-start the very first pantomime book club, which only goes to show how splendidly she's been bonding with her new family. TALLAWAH recently chatted with the budding leading lady about working with theatre legends, being in a committed relationship, and making her parents proud.
TALLAWAH: Did you ever imagine that you'd be playing a lead role in you first outing with the Pantomime Company ― and impressing critics at the same time?
Antoinette Perkins: I never expected it, but it's the best thing that's ever happened to me. The rigorous rehearsals helped me a lot. We rehearsed every day up to the last day before opening night. It's just been a fantastic experience.
TALLAWAH: What has working with veterans like Faith Bucknor and writer Barbara Gloudon taught you about the industry? What lessons have you picked up?
A.P.: It was intimidating at first, but working with them has certainly boosted my confidence. I had no major experience prior to doing the pantomime, but they've made me feel welcome. I really look up to them. They've taught me how to be a good actor and how to bring my own personality to the stage. Every night [the actors] constantly talk to each other. They're a big help.
TALLAWAH: Your disarming character Miss Lovely experiences her fair share of brotherly attention in this production. When it comes to the real-life dating world, what are your rules?
A.P.: Being young and free and having fun (Laughs). In relationships you'll make mistakes, but you have to learn to live your life. I have been in a long-term relationship for the past eight years, and we're still going strong. We fight almost every day, but we never let the sun go down and we don't make up. Fights will happen, but I'm at a mature stage where I can admit I was wrong and apologize so we can move on.
TALLAWAH: Were your parents supportive of your decision to pursue a life in the theatre?
A.P.: Absolutely. My father told me that from I was little he always saw me as a performer. I was always that kind of child; quiet by myself but whenever I'm around family I'm a loose canon. (Laughs). My mom cried when she saw the show on opening night. She has all the newspaper clippings.
TALLAWAH: What's your dream role as an actress?
A.P.: You know, I haven't really thought about that. I know I want to build a solid body of work, but for now I'm just taking it one day at a time.
TALLAWAH: Understood. So what do you consider your biggest achievement to date?
A.P.: Doing the pantomime, definitely. I don't even have to think about the answer to that. It's been fun; I love the energy of the show. When I'm on stage and the lights come on, you transform. When the focus is on you and you're confident in the spotlight, that's when you truly bring the audience into the experience.
> Review: Princess Boonoonoonoos melds lively music, community drama