Saturday, 30 January 2016

STAGE LEFT: New Kingston’s Theatre Place gets a new lease on life as the Phoenix Theatre

SECOND ACT: Apart from his neat skills as a playwright, what we’ve always admired about David Tulloch is that he’s a man of his word. About a year ago, in a TALLAWAH interview, he emphasized that he and his Probemaster Entertainment team members had set their sights on opening their very own theatre space in Kingston, in the wake of the Pantry Playhouse’s sudden departure from the scene. A property on Ruthven Road seemed promising, but apparently that fell through. Now comes news that Haining Road’s long-struggling Theatre Place is about to find new life as the Phoenix Theatre, thanks to Tulloch’s visionary leadership and business savvy. From what we’ve gleaned, the theatre house is getting a solid makeover. New amenities are being installed to add to its overall appeal and to, more or less, maximize its potential. It’s about time. The first production to be hosted inside the renovated space, we hear, is a remount of Dahlia Harris’ Same Difference, which had a short run at Merle Grove High’s Karram Speid Auditorium in late December. Same Difference is scheduled to open at the Phoenix Theatre on Ash Wednesday, February 10.

INCREDIBLE LEGENDS: The arrival of a new theatre production headlined by the incomparable Leonie Forbes is always cause for rejoicing. The Thespy and Actor Boy-winning actress is reteaming with her For My Daughter director (David Tulloch) and costar (Rosie Murray) to bring to audiences Not My Child, an emotional domestic drama that promises to provoke thought and tears. It’s the latest effort from Tulloch (writer/director/producer) and Probemaster Entertainment, which marks its 16th anniversary this year. With Bangarang heading on its national tour, Not My Child will play at Green Gables Theatre as of Feb. 10, the date also earmarked for the premiere of Dorothy Cunningham’s latest production, Mama Take Me to Church, a faith-based ensemble drama, playing at Hope Road’s YMCA. Cunningham was last seen in 2014’s Lotto Money (at Theatre Place), opposite Peter Heslop and Munair Zacca.

STAGE MAGIC: Watching the Jamaica Junior Theatre Company’s (JJTC) production of Pan at the Philip Sherlock Centre, it becomes immediately clear that a lot of hard work and detail went into the preparation process. The whole thing comes together splendidly, and the show’s art direction is by far its strongest asset. The show looks and sounds fabulous. The spirited young team running things at the JMTC these days (Danielle Stiebel, Jodi HoLung, Samantha Chin-Yee, et al) is a wildly imaginative bunch who don’t shy away from bold moves and creative risks. To say the least, they ought to be encouraged and strongly supported as we strive to keep rousing musical theatre alive in Jamaica. Kudos!

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