Occasionally you had to remind yourself that these are performers, barely in their teens, displaying such riveting stage presence and artistic maturity. I’m referring, of course, to the dozens of talented kids who stormed the stage at last weekend’s Jamaica Dance Umbrella’s junior showcase at the Philip Sherlock Centre. Representing such companies and troupes as Vickers, Ardenne High Dance Society, DeRoi, Beam, Kayla and Tony Wilson’s Company Dance Theatre, the performers brought the house down with their show-stopping vim, vigour and vitality. Whether they were inhabiting the roles of tiny angels (accompanied by Kurt Carr’s “Awesome Wonder”), a too-cool-for-school posse (rocking out to Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk”) or an army of pint-sized Michael Jacksons (sporting hats, gloves, the moonwalk, the works), they earned the deafening cheers and applause that greeted their performances – works that encompassed powerful examples of struggle and survival, freedom, and the joys of being young, gifted and Black.
> Is Jamaica ready for its own Lion King-type musical?
Bob Andy says he wouldn’t mind originating a reggae musical before he kicks the bucket. The 71-year-old music icon, headlining the latest in a series of “Reggae Talks” at UWI on Tuesday, revealed that he’s long nursed a dream of working on a musical – the scale of Broadway and West End juggernauts The Lion King and Wicked – that celebrates the evolution of Jamaica’s indigenous music, from ska and mento to reggae and the modern sounds we now enjoy. Playwright Basil Dawkins, Bob Andy mentioned, told him about a script he’s written but they haven’t met to discuss it. “I think Jamaica should have a musical like this; a musical of roots music travelling the world with Jamaican players. And you leave one in London, one in New York,” he tells TALLAWAH of his vision. “There was a play in the ’70s called Hair that I really liked, and I’m thinking of something similar. A few years ago, some people tried to do one on Broadway called Irie, but it flopped.”
> Ain’t no stopping Tulloch’s musical train
David Tulloch just keeps churning them out. On the heels of the recent debut of his provocative comedy-dramas Bangarang and Not My Child, the prolific scribe is awaiting this weekend’s premiere of his latest theatrical offering, Block 24, a musical playing at Green Gables, with a cast of relative newcomers. As you will recall, his last musical, 2013’s Jamaica Sweet, swept the Thespian Spirit Awards. Tulloch, in his other guise as businessman, is largely responsible for the transformation of New Kingston’s Theatre Place into the new and improved Phoenix Theatre, where a remount of DMH Productions’ Same Difference is currently thrilling audiences.