Saturday, 22 July 2017

SHOW ME THE MONEY: Superfunny and smartly acted, The House rules

TAKE A CHANCE: Ferrell and Poehler play a couple of risk-takers who start an illegal casino.

WHEN ace comics Amy Poehler and Tina Fey join forces for screen projects (Mean Girls, Sisters, SNL, the Golden Globes), the results are consistently and endlessly funny. Simply put, they have a formula and a rapport that works. Poehler brings that same winning chemistry to her comedic partnership with Will Ferrell (also an SNL alum) in The House, one of the cleverest big-screen laughfests you’ll see at the cineplex this summer.

Plot-wise, it’s a bit thin on the meat, but the two leads – veterans at the top of their game – imbue the material with such irrepressible verve and hit-the-spot punchlines that in no time you’re completely sold.

Directed by Andrew Jay Cohen (who co-penned the script with Brendan O’Brien), The House follows Scott (Ferrell) and Kate Johansen (Poehler), a close-knit couple whose brainy daughter and only child Alex (Ryan Simpkins) has just received her acceptance letter from Bucknell University. Cue the confetti. But when her scholarship falls through (the town council wants to construct a pool instead) and her parents can’t come up with the money otherwise, desperate times call for desperate measures. 

The Johansens decide to go into business with the unlikeliest of partners – a sloppy Messiah lookalike named Frank (Jason Mantzoukas) whose bombshell wife Raina (Michaela Watkins) just left him for obvious reasons. But Jesus cleans up nice. They decide to transform a home basement into a secret gambling hotspot, complete with Las Vegas-style attractions to entice the big spenders in their suburban town who can keep a secret. 

But in this town things don’t stay hush-hush for very long, and before you know it word gets out about the money-making enterprise, throwing the Johansens, their new ‘associates’, and their illegal business into a tailspin of cops, mobsters and one money-grubbing town councilman. 

With their expert timing and frequently deadpan delivery, Poehler and Ferrell do serious damage throughout this side-splittingly funny flick that also explores parenting choices, human relationships, power and greed within the space of 110 minutes. 

Cohen and O’Brien are talented comedy writers who know when to go for broke and when to pull back. That’s why, coupled with the sterling effort of its stars, the film hits. Superfunny and smartly acted, this House rules. Tyrone’s Verdict: B+

Friday, 21 July 2017

CORE VALUES: The Yoga Angels talk about the transformative benefits of yoga living

ON TOP OF THE WORLD: “It’s a purification tool that gives me the opportunity to declutter and walk around as the light that I am,”  says Subhadra, now 46.

FOR the past 22 years, Sandra ‘Subhadra’ Griffiths has turned to yoga to boost her stamina, cure her kids’ aches and pains and help her evolve into a more driven and productive human being. To help others do the same and achieve that elusive life-work balance, in 1997 she started Yoga Angels International, her company that now has branches from Kingston to California, where they’ve established the City of Beverly Hills programme to get the schools involved. “It’s grown beyond what we’ve expected,” says Subhadra, who also trains and certifies yoga teachers, including fit, gorgeous daughters Radha, 27 and Kali, 12, who run the Beverly Hills programme.

The recent inaugural staging of Kingston Yoga Fest has been their biggest coup to date – a well-supported event (pictured below) that gave the 46-year-old mom, her girls and the rest of the Yoga Angels team a platform to spread their awareness message and woo new followers to the movement. On a golden Thursday morning, we sat down with Subhadra, Radha and Kali at Lady Musgrave’s CPJ Courtyard for an open and reflective talk on how the yoga lifestyle can significantly improve and transform your life.

“We live in a stressful society, but yoga lets us know that we don’t have to choose that life. We have the ability to choose something else,” explains Subhadra. She adds that those who enroll in release-the-peace classes Yoga Angels are taught how to make conscious eating choices and how to effectively de-stress. What’s more, instructors demonstrate how yoga’s healing techniques can help in curing everything from headaches, back aches and common colds to thwarting asthma attacks. “Most importantly,” Subhadra hastens to add, “yoga strengthens your nervous system and tremendously helps with digestive issues.”

For Subhadra, yoga lends clarity to the mind’s eye when it comes to life and work matters. “Nothing is permanent. I am what I am because what you believe matters,” she argues. “I don’t see boundaries, but it’s important that you do everything in moderation. I consider myself self-full, not selfish, because in addition to giving of yourself and your time, you have to learn how to receive. Learning every day and applying those lessons regimentally is crucial.”
“I think it’s the best thing you can get from it. How to make better choices,” declares Radha. She should know. “Because yoga has was introduced to me from so early, I know how to do better. I’m always checking myself. What am I learning? Am I living my life to the fullest? Because of yoga, it’s one of the words I’ll always revisit.” Yoga also introduced her to the philosophy of great thinkers like Abraham Hicks. “He teaches that as you become more focused, more disciplined and grow into your God-like self,” she shares, “you appreciate things more.”

Yoga’s athletic component can greatly develop your physical attributes and boost endurance levels. “Certain yoga styles are great for dancers, athletes and patients because the muscles are lifted and engaged. Lots of neurological workings,” Radha tells us. “Inside out. You gain a lot of strength in the core and upper body.” Subhadra concurs, drawing attention to the liberating energy she consistently gains. “It’s cleansed and purified a lot of my blockages, so I have more energy,” she reports. “It’s a purification tool that gives me the opportunity to declutter and walk around as the light that I am.”  

It all comes together here, bolstered by the fundamental necessity of proper breathwork. “You understand and appreciate the vital importance of having air flowing through your nostrils. You can’t do anything if you can’t breathe,” Subhadra emphasizes. How you choose to deal with the obstacles you face also comes into play. “Pay close attention to the choices that you’re making daily; how you decide to live, what you do with your energy. That’s why a mirror becomes so important because it provides you with a reflection of yourself.”

> To learn more about the work of Yoga Angels Intl, visit

Thursday, 20 July 2017

TALK OF THE TOWN: Portia Simpson-Miller is UWI’s newest distinguished fellow

The Portia Simpson-Miller success story continues to take interesting twists and turns. Now comes news that the recently retired PNP stalwart is all set to take up an honorary post at the UWI Mona campus, following in the footsteps of her idol Edward Seaga. “Our honorable distinguished fellow will be coming home to the UWI, as it enters the 70th year of service and leadership to Jamaica and the wider Caribbean,” reports UWI Vice Chancellor, Sir Hilary Beckles. The significance of such a lofty appointment is not lost on Simpson-Miler, who was recently feted by the PNP Women’s Movement at the Spanish Court Hotel in New Kingston. “I look forward to the next part of my journey. I look forward to going to UWI,” she has said in response. Now heading into her mid-70s, Simpson-Miller will take up the post “in a few weeks” to do some research and commence work on her memoirs. 

And as Simpson-Miller packs her bags and heads to UWI, a successor is being sought within the PNP camp to fill her South-West St. Andrew seat in Gordon House. Current party leader Dr. Peter Phillips says an announcement will be made soon. So who will get the job? The much-touted former Kingston mayor Dr. Angela Brown-Burke or grassroots warrior Audrey Facey Smith, who currently represents the Payne Land division? May the better contender win. 

Meanwhile, people are saying the local papers should publish portions of Audley Shaw’s $8-million cellphone bill so the public can see for themselves. It other words, let the records show… 

We were hoping for a better result (a podium finish, that is), but were still proud of our U-21 Sunshine Girls, who took 5th place at the recently concluded World Netball Youth Cup in Botswana. New Zealand’s Kiwis are once again champions of the world, after defeating powerhouse rivals Australia in a nail-biting gold-medal showdown. 


1) When is Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce set to deliver her little bundle of joy? 

2) Has the latest strain of conjunctivitis (pink eye) reached your neck of the woods? Keep a sharp look out.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

TALLAWAH BOOK CLUB: Songstress and first-time author Stephanie on 5 books that made a difference

SHOW OF SUPPORT: Stephanie (right) cops an endorsement from singer Aisha Davis.

Books (intriguing, inspirational) rank high among singer-songwriter Stephanie’s greatest passions, falling somewhere on a list that includes her daughters, making music and family life. She has three libraries at home. Enough said. As she goes on a promotional blitz in support of her debut effort, Diary of the Scorpion Lover, the multi-talented diva sits down with TALLAWAH Book Club to dish about some of her all-time favourite reads: 

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell 
It’s about how different variables in life affect results; how different variables can led to different outcomes. It helps me in my music business, how I market myself and how I get people to respond to my music. 

Lessons in Truth by Emilie Cady 
I like reading books that intrigue me, especially the ones that are based on spirituality, and this one explores a kind of spirituality that I can relate to. It’s about the New Thought movement and the comparisons to established Christianity. 

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown 
I enjoyed it mainly because of the little nuggets it reveals about the story of Jesus Christ and how it connects the dots. I know I am late to the party, but I love learning about religion and delving into metaphysics and new thought teachings and how religion has unfolded historically. 

The Hathaway Series by Lisa Kaypas 
She’s an excellent writer, and I love how the storylines connect. She takes us on a wild journey of love, vulnerability and family. I highly recommend it. 

Martin Luther King: A Biography by Roger Bruns
I’ve always been interested in his story, what happened to him and what his contribution to Black history was. The author does a very good job bringing out all of that. I’m big on biographies and inspirational books, and this is one of the best I’ve ever come across.

GRACE & GRATITUDE: Forbes, Tulloch inducted into Hall of Fame at Phoenix Awards

POWER OF TWO: The honorees sharing a moment at the recent awards ceremony.

THEATRE icon Leonie Forbes and the David Tulloch-led Probemaster Entertainment have established a solid working relationship over the years that continues to bear fruit - most significantly with her recent back-to-back Actor Boy wins (For My Daughter and Not My Child) for leading performances, both directed by Tulloch.

Add to that her legendary stage and screen career that's simply matchless among Jamaican entertainers today. So Forbes was a shoo-in for Hall of Fame honours at last week's inaugural Phoenix Awards, put on to coincide with Probemaster's 18th year milestone. The event, a gala-style celebration complete with cocktails and performances, took place at the Phoenix Theatre in New Kingston.

"Acting for me is therapy, inspiration, challenge and purpose," Forbes told the packed house (who gave her a standing ovation as she both entered and exited the stage), reflecting on her artistic journey. "When I immerse myself and emerge from my make-believe world, I can smile at anything and anybody."

As fellow iconic actress Ruth HoShing (who read the citation) pointed out, Forbes' lengthy resume lists starring roles in dozens of stage and film projects (12 national pantomimes included) and a whopping eight Actor Boy Awards for acting, a possible record. And at 80 years old, this mother and grandmother of three is still going strong. Tulloch, the night's other Hall of Fame inductee, also continues to defy expectations and confound critics.

By his own admission, he's been tested and tried to no end over the course of the nearly two-decade long journey, as Probemaster's founder and chief principal. He knows all about endurance and survival.

Throughout the journey, Tulloch (who admittedly cashed in his insurance policy in 1999 to start the company) has remained focussed and nurtured as spirit of gratitude. "Eighteen years is a lot of entertainment," he gushed during his acceptance speech, where he also took time to touch on lessons learned. "When you fall you must always remember to get right back up because you were going somewhere when you fell."

As the night wore on, trophies, medals and certificates were handed put to key industry players, up-and-comers and folks (past and present) who've contributed significantly to Probemaster's success. TALLAWAH's Tyrone S. Reid was presented with the "Critically Acclaimed" award.

Monday, 17 July 2017

NEWS FEED: TV-J acquires exclusive broadcast rights for IAAF World Championships

AHEAD OF THE PACK: For next month’s IAAF World Athletics Championships in London, Television Jamaica has secured the exclusive broadcast rights for Jamaica and the region, in addition to non-exclusive radio rights and internet streaming of the championships. As such, the station is taking a firm stance against any possible violation of this arrangement. “Please be advised that TV-J is the only station that has been granted these rights by the IAAF and there should be no unauthorized broadcast of any of the championships by any other television or cable provider unless authorized to use these rights,” the media house said in a print advisory that ran in the local papers on Sunday. “These rights also include internet streaming, pay-per-view, closed-circuit viewing and public viewing of the championships. All media platforms in Jamaica and regionally will be monitored.” The championships run from August 5-13.

SERIOUS ABOUT BUSINESS: Observing the theme, “#JADiasporaStrong… Make the Connection, Live the Experience,” the Jamaica Diaspora Conference is set for July 23-26 in Kingston. The conference, expected to draw mammoth attendance, will address everything from finance and investment opportunities and emerging entrepreneurial industries to community partnerships and development projects. Among the local and international speakers set to grace the podium are Dr. Julius Garvey, Michael Lee Chin and Foreign Affairs Minister, Kamina Johnson-Smith. “The conference will provide an opportunity for us to focus on how investment can take place and to celebrate what is good about Jamaica,” the minister points out. “It will also celebrate our business confidence levels and the ways in which Jamaica is ripe for investments.” 

DOLLARS & SENSE: As the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) moves forward in the post-Burrell era, the sporting body’s financial footing will be increasingly thrust under the microscope, due largely to that massive $300-million debt. Even so, JFF treasurer and Vice President, Garry Sinclair, waxes optimistic about the road ahead. “Given the state of our finances and the size of our finance department, I think we have done an excellent job of keeping creditors at bay, remaining a credible organization and institution, and filing all of the returns because there is a tendency when you have financial fortunes like ours to not comply with the reporting requirements. We are up to date,” he recently revealed to an interviewer. The key to greater financial stability for the organization, Sinclair is convinced, rests with the senior Reggae Boyz programme. “We will have to become more of a perennial contender for qualification to the World Cup – and indeed qualify for the World Cup,” he argues. “If the senior team gets better and gets to where we want them to go, we are not going to have to worry about financing.” span>

ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: Actress Rosie Murray talks Slice of Life, giving back, and being a survivor

TRUE STORY:  “I don’t feel older but I do feel wiser,“ Murray, 58, confesses.

THE proof of the pudding is in the eating. For award-winning actress Rosie Murray, such an idea is rooted in the literal and the figurative, given her awesome culinary gifts and the dozens of well-baked productions (on screen and on stage) she’s starred in since embarking on a life in showbiz back in the ’80s. The latest of the lot is Slice of Life: A One-Woman Show That Dishes Everything, her utterly candid two-hour solo adventure that recently brought the laughs and some food for thought to the Phoenix Theatre in New Kingston. On Sunday’s closing night, there was free bread pudding for everyone! The 58-year-old star (whose multiple hats also include veteran broadcaster) invited TALLAWAH to her cozy dressing room to dish about putting her stories out there and what she’s most looking forward to in the next chapter of her life. 

TALLAWAH: Congrats on the success of Slice of Life, a very amusing and enlightening show. You present your truth-telling with such candour. Have you always been this confident in speaking your mind? 
Rosie Murray: Yes, and it used to get me in trouble a lot. But now I’m being a lot more diplomatic because sometimes you have to just let go of certain things. And I think it shows a level of maturity when you can be honest about your shortcomings.

TALLAWAH: So that notion in part inspired the show. 
Rosie Murray: Yes, and what I include in the show is not even half of my experiences. What I really wanted to do with Slice of Life is show audience members some of the things I’ve been through, some of the mistakes I’ve made, so they won’t make some of those same mistakes. Slice of Life is also about survival. It came out of a need to talk about things, some of the things I’m including in the autobiography I’m working on. What amazes me most has been the response. I did the show on May 11 as a kind of birthday celebration, and [producer] Nadean [Rawlins] saw it, and said we had to do a longer run, and so we worked on it with [Owen] Blakka [Ellis] for this season. 

TALLAWAH: What was the most fun part of putting on the show versus the most challenging part? 
Rosie Murray: I think the most fun part was working with Blakka again; he and I go way back to the ’70s at School of Drama. And he knows some of my stories. The most challenging part was finding the right music, finding the songs that were right for the different moments in the show. 

TALLAWAH: Rosie, after 58 years on the planet, what has life taught you about success? 
Rosie Murray: That you must not allow success to inflate your ego, because once the ego takes over creativity goes out the door. You have to stay firmly rooted and grounded. Success has taught me to be humble and to be grateful for the talent I’ve been blessed with. 

TALLAWAH: For the record, you absolutely deserved that Actor Boy win for Not My Child. Brilliant performance. 
Rosie Murray: Thanks. That character was the most challenging I’ve ever had to play, and I have to give thanks to David [Tulloch]. He’s written some of the most complex but interesting roles that I’ve been able to play since I started working with him. He really pulls stuff out of you. 

TALLAWAH: What is your current state of mind? Do you feel older and wiser? 
Rosie Murray: As a person, you don’t really change. You just get rid o f the kinks over time. (Laughs). I don’t feel older but I do feel wiser. At this point, I want the next chapter of my life to be effortless and stress-free. I’m a single person now, so I milk the pleasures of my single life. 

TALLAWAH: From radio to stage to screen, your star power is undeniable. What do you consider your greatest achievement? 
Rosie Murray: I would say just surviving through all of my challenges and maintaining myself. I’ve weathered many storms, but through it all I’ve maintained my core being.

TALLAWAH: And you’re still a force to be reckoned with. How do you move forward and keep your strength? 
Rosie Murray: I’ve decided I’m going to use my skills and craft in the latter years on some major projects. I want to do more Slice of Life shows, and I’m taking the show on the road. I’ve spent so many years working for people that now I want to do more for myself. I want to hone some young talents and help some young people through their storms. That’s what I crave now, wanting to share more and be there for other people.

> Review: Murray's Slice of Life hits the funny bone

PIECES OF ME: Murray’s hilarious, confessional Slice of Life brings out her storytelling prowess

FUNNY GIRL: The award-winning actress reveals some deeply personal truths in her show.

“EVERYBODY has a story and Rosie’s got stories to tell!” Rosie Murray makes this declaration early, as the audience settles in for the emotional rollercoaster that is Slice of Life, her frank and very funny one-woman show. And she more than fulfils the promise of that line.

Equal parts confessional and enlightening, Slice of Life pulls back the veil on the eventful life of a sister who has had her fair share of trials and tribulations, joy and heartache, but who has endured to emerge whole on the other side.

The best solo shows combine riveting testimony, lessons learned and other personal truths with humour and hubris. Rosie’s production, directed by former schoolmate and respected industry colleague Owen ‘Blakka’ Ellis, is as autobiographical and richly amusing as they come. In other words, if you loved the style of Debra Ehrhardt’s Cock Tales, Rosie Murray’s Slice of Life is right up your alley.

Of course, she had to cram five decades into two hours, and so several aspects of her journey were omitted, but what she does deliver vividly shows us the girl she was, the woman she became, and the meaning of evolution.

Actress, broadcaster, telephone operator, sales rep, sister, mother friend – Murray has worn countless hats. She’s been the only ‘coloured’ girl at a British school; she’s interacted with prisoners at the General Penitentiary and collaborated with an undertaker when time came to pay final respects to her dearly departed mother.

She knows all about the lazy, hazy days of smoking weed, what it’s like to come face to face with a robber at the dead of night and, worse, having a stalker on your hands – arguably the most frightening part of her 20-year stint at JBC Radio 1, hosting The Friendship Club after hours.

But on the upside, she recalls getting pregnant at 29 (something she “had to do as a woman – even once”), the glorious time she spent as guest relations boss at the Wyndham, and her timeless passion for good music and deejaying parties.

She shares all these fascinating anecdotes and more with her good girlfriend Yvonne, who joins her on stage – (the setting is her Linstead kitchen and living quarters) – as she gets the ingredients ready for her world-famous bread pudding. It’s a personal touch that makes the show all the more appealing. 

In the end, Murray concedes that her life has been one big adventure, and if she had the power she wouldn’t change a thing. As she advises her utterly delighted audience members, “Any situation you find yourself in, ride that wave.” Tyrone’s Verdict: A-

> Interview: Murray on Slice of Life, giving back and being a survivor

ON THE RADAR: David Heron does Stallings’ Leonora + Peter Polack presents Jamaica, The Land of Film + Judith Falloon-Reid wins big with 70X7

PAGE: Peter Polack may be a graduate of the Norman Manley Law School who’s amassed vast experience in the judiciary, but he’s equally passionate about film, particularly the history and the evolution of the art form in Jamaica. With Jamaica, The Land of Film, his debut publication, he’s put together a comprehensive chronicle charting 100 years of Jamaica’s involvement in the film world, going as far back as 1910 ad highlighting numerous previously unpublished details concerning locations, actors and directors, etc. According to Polack, the depth of research and painstaking attention to detail brought to Jamaica, The Land of Film “will be of great interest to cinema aficionados and fans of Caribbean history alike.” 

SCREEN: Acclaimed author, entrepreneur and founder of the Independent Voyces literary fest, Judith Falloon-Reid, has scored her latest triumph, with her film 70X7 picking up the award for Best Inspirational Film at the Caribbean Lens Film Festival held in Hollywood, California, recently. Released by Barrivisions Productions, the company Falloon-Reid (pictured above with ABC Studios' Nne Ebong) established with her husband, 70X7 is a faith-based drama that shares the compelling story of a superstar singer who falls on hard times and faces an uncertain future. 

STAGE: Some guys have all the luck. Hard-working actor and playwright David Heron continues his good run on the North American theatre circuit, landing a pivotal role in the recent New York staged reading of Leonora, a new work from writer David Stallings, who drew inspiration from Henrik Ibsen’s classic A Doll’s House, giving it a Jamaican twist. Set in ’50s Jamaica, Leonora finds Heron in the role of Shamar Campbell, a banker of mixed heritage who is about to be given the boot. For Heron, the play is both an important new work and a refreshing creative challenge. “The issues of class, race and simmering social rebellion that now permeate the story,” Heron says, “give it an energy and dynamism that’s hugely exciting for me, both as an artist and a Jamaican.”

Saturday, 15 July 2017

MASTER BUILDER: Theatre colleagues remember Michael Lorde as the dedicated and consummate professional

ONE OF OUR OWN: Lorde, who passed away on Monday after a long illness, worked on 21 national pantomimes. (Photo: NDTC)

ON any given day that you walk past the Little Theatre on Tom Redcam Avenue in Kingston, you’ll notice a black flag fluttering in the breeze at half-mast atop the landmark theatre house. It’s to mark the passing of Michael Lorde, the estimable architect and veteran set designer who died at hospital on Monday after being ill for some time. Lorde was in his 50s.

The Little Theatre was like a second home for the master builder, who’d been working with the LTM National Pantomime for over two decades, primarily in the capacity of chief set designer. And as members of the wider theatre fraternity will attest, his reputation preceded him. Over the years, he collaborated with a veritable who’s who of Jamaican theatre practitioners (from Basil Dawkins to the School of Drama faculty), winning a number of Actor Boy Awards along the way for outstanding set design.

Even so, his name was synonymous with the pantomime company’s core technical team. “I hurt deeply because he was someone who did his work so well. For the last pantomime, we asked him to build a helicopter and he spent long hours working on it,” remembers producer and script writer Barbara Gloudon, who brought Lorde on board at the dawn of the ’90s. “Sometimes the rest of us would lose our temper but never him. He worked very hard in theatre, and all of us will miss him greatly. But what’s most important is what he has left behind.”

Lorde, who worked on some 21 LTM pantomimes, was the dependable sort, costume mistress Anya Gloudon is quick to point out. “He was always there. We could rely on him. Sometimes he’ll be here working till late so the show could be ready on time. We are certainly very shaken by [the news of his passing],” she said. “The cast members, past and present, had a nice rapport with him. He always had his camera, so we could always go to him if we needed pictures for anything.”

Lorde also served on the LTM’s management board as treasurer. As for his other professional roles, he lectured in Architecture at the University of Technology and was affiliated with the Jamaica Institute of Architects. Fellow architect (and lighting maestro) Robin Baston sings his praises. “What Michael brought to theatre was detail. He was a very detailed person. He had a certain level of skill and commitment that’s going to be missed within the theatre community,” said Baston. “Not everybody in theatre is willing to take the time to get the thing right, but that was his thing.”

Lorde is survived by a number of relatives, including his father, his mother and a brother, who will be making the funeral arrangements.

Friday, 14 July 2017

GUEST OF HONOUR: Mother Teresa successor, Sister Mary Pierick, gives thumbs-up to work of local sisters

TEAM LEADER: “Jamaica has the potential to accomplish great things,” says the Superior General, who is on her first visit to the Caribbean.

AT the end of the service, members of the small congregation wasted no time going up to her, with their toddlers in tow, for a special blessing. Those with camera-ready cellphones whipped them out, eager to snap pics for friends and family back home.

In short, a warm reception greeted Sister Mary Prema Pierick, the Calcutta-based Superior General of the globally celebrated Missionaries of Charity (the sisterhood famously started by Mother Teresa), who was the guest of honour at a special mass at Sts. Peter & Paul Church in Liguanea on Wednesday evening.

Sister Pierick has been in the island since Monday, visiting with local members of the sisterhood, in communities across Kingston, to see the work they have been doing in fulfillment of their sacred duties.

As Sister Mary tells TALLAWAH, her first visit to Jamaica has been a pleasant one. “I’m very happy to be here. I’m very grateful. I’m happy with the work that the sisters are doing, and I see that they are happy working here,” she said, flashing a warm and disarming smile. “I’m grateful that the Archbishop could be so kind to offer this special mass for me.”

She’s referring to Most Rev. Kenneth Richards, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Kingston, who led Wednesday’s reflective service. “Her visit is significant because this is her first visit to Jamaica and the region. It is customary for the sisters in India, as an international order, to visit parts of the world where they have houses,” the Archbishop noted. “And the fact that she is a successor to Mother Teresa makes her visit very special.” 

At 64, Sister Mary Prema Pierick has been serving as Superior General for the past eight years. She noted that while the work being done by Missionaries of Charity’s local arm is laudable, there is room for improvement. “We are discussing to see what can be done to increase the efforts of the sisters,” she told us. “Jamaica has the potential to accomplish great things. Mother is helping us, so we are confident.” 

Sister Pierick, who handed out small Mother Teresa mementoes at the end of Wednesday’s mass, will visit the house based in Balaclava, St. Elizabeth, later this week, ahead of her departure for India on Sunday.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

TALK UP YOUT’: Gold medallists bring grit and gusto to performances at Speechfest

DREAM TEAM: The night's best pieces had energy, drama and lots of spark.

ACCORDING to emcee Joan Andrea Hutchinson, over 12,000 entries were submitted for the speech competition alone in the 2017 JCDC National Festival of the Performing Arts. Last week’s Speechfest whittled that number down to the cream-of-the-crop entries (close to 20) showcased before a sizeable and appreciative crowd at the Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre in Kingston. 

School-age performers, hailing from institutions across the island, shone as they delivered solo and group pieces with conviction and no shortage of gold-medal gusto.

Innovation and spark is what you thought of as a male trio from Excelsior High gave a clever interpretation of “The Lord’s Prayer,” in addition to a piece entitled “Black and White.” An all-female ensemble from Little London Primary paid resounding homage to global she-roes (among them Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks and our very own Nanny of the Maroons) with “Nanny Strong.” 

While a troupe representing Claude McKay High preached an “abstinence makes sense” message with “Sex Can Wait,” a Clan Carthy High posse had everyone in stitches with “Science Again.” Sparks Academy of the Arts raised the show’s temperature with the hard-hitting “Pastor Ah Play Rompin’ Shop”, ahead of the big climax that came with Tacius Golding High’s gripping excerpt from “Blood.” 

Five-year-old sensation Courtney Greaves (St. Joseph’s) was the pick of the solo performers, bringing real poise and pizzazz to her rendition of the poem “Hey, Black Child.” Claude McKay’s storytelling prodigy Romario Thomas showed commendable promise as a raconteur as he delivered the colourful tale of “Anansi and Cockroach.” The mystery of Who Stole the Bullybeef Sandwich and Beverage? played out as Alicia Curtis (as a disgruntled classroom teacher) asked “Weh Mi Lunch?”

Ashley Gray also scored with her brand of “Excitement,” while Holland Primary’s DantĂ© Johnson moved even the toughest cynics with the teary lament “Daddy Why?”

Speechfest 2017 formed part of a Best of Festival series, put on by the JCDC, that shone the spotlight on the year’s most outstanding gold medal awardees. Dramafest, Dancefest, Traditional Folk Forms and Musicfest completed the series.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

SOCIETY, SOCIETY: Lovebirds Tanya Shirley and Alan Johnstone find wedded bliss

Tanya Shirley is having the best year ever. Mere weeks after receiving a Silver Musgrave Medal from the Institute of Jamaica, the affable poetess (The Merchant of Feathers, She Who Sleeps With Bones), tied the knot with her Prince Charming (aka Alan Johnstone), who works in finance. The lovebirds said their I Dos before a gathering of close family and friends at the Deer Park Country House on June 17. The blushing bride wore a Louise Graham gown. Guests included Jamaica National’s Dr. Renee Rattray, who paid tribute to the pair in song and UWI’s Dr. Michael Bucknor, who recited a poem Shirley wrote to mark the occasion. 

Prof. Elsa Leo-Rhynie deserves all the accolades coming her way as she heads into her golden years. On June 23, the former UWI Pro-Vice Chancellor and Principal of the Mona Campus was presented with the Chancellor’s Medal by Sir George Alleyne, who has announced his retirement from the institution. The ceremony took place at UWI’s Regional headquarters, Mona. The Chancellor’s Medal is a special award of distinction presented by the UWI Chancellor to an individual who has made a substantial and lasting contribution to the welfare and development of UWI. Among Prof. Leo-Rhynie’s numerous honours are the National Order of Distinction (received in 2000) and the Order of Jamaica, conferred in 2015. In 2014, the Elsa Leo-Rhynie Hall opened its doors to students at Mona. 

For countless Jamaicans, especially those of us who grew up in the rural parts, big sisters were like “second mothers.” That’s precisely the kind of bond that Lorna Goodison and Barbara Gloudon shared. “She was the star of the family without a doubt; we all adored her. She was a great example for the rest of us,” Goodison says of her sibling, who is 12 years her senior. There were nine of them in total coming of age in St. Elizabeth, Goodison tells TALLAWAH. “Because of her we grew up going to the theatre and attending concerts and ballet recitals. She brought home a lot of books, so I grew up reading. She introduced us to a wide world.” 

The long wait is over. Bruce Golding has reportedly submitted the Caricom Review Commission’s multiple-page report to PM Andrew Holness, and inquiring minds are eager to hear the findings.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

CHAT ’BOUT: US ‘bullish’ for equal rights + Disempowering cyber criminals + What Portia got right

“Portia’s greatness is more about who she inspired and made feel empowered. She might not have pushed the laws to give power to the people. However, she made thousands of poor Jamaicans feel ‘smaddified.’” – Columnist Dr. Orville Taylor weighing in on the legacy of newly retired PNP stalwart and former Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller

“Your hear people saying we are pushing a particular shared agenda or sexual imperialism. But that’s not the case. We just want people to be treated equally, as we in the United States put an emphasis on equality, race, colour, creed, religion, sexual preferences. People should all have the same rights. That’s what we are talking about, not pushing any particular brand or agenda or business. We just want equality, and we really are a bit bullish when there is no equal rights.” – Outgoing US Ambassador to Jamaica, Luis G. Moreno, emphasizing his country’s perpetual fight against human rights abuses at home and in countries they serve globally 

“We need comprehensive laws that increase accountability for those who hold vast amounts of citizens’ confidential information. The United States, for instance, passed the Health Insurance and Accountability Act, which imposes obligations on the entities covered to make mandatory notifications to the authorities, the affected individuals and the media [in the event of breach]. Similar provisions would strengthen Jamaica’s security architecture and force entities to pull up their socks, instead of the usual knee-jerk enactments with little effect.” – Hodine Williams, Crown Counsel in the Cybercrimes Unit, on the need for more robust legislative framework to curb the activities of cybercriminals 

“Sometimes a politician’s best intentions are automatically placed under the microscope, as it should; their best efforts instantaneously dismissed, ridiculed, sabotaged or their blueprints for national or parochial advancement treated with scorn, intellectual dishonesty and disinterest. It is just as difficult for the constituents to accept and buy into their dreams and aspirations. The thing is, constituents must also overcome their own biases, fears, trepidations, and sufficiently so, for them to embrace and trust the politician.” – Social commentator Christopher Burns on the often complicated relationship between local politicians and the people they were elected to serve 

“I find it interesting that – revealing even – that the IMF is as pleased as punch with our performance and is encouraging us to continue in the same direction. I think the time has come for a comprehensive, scholarly, multidisciplinary study of the true cost of crime on this country. Special effort should be spent in properly quantifying the intangible costs because therein lies many of the mysteries that continue to mystify us.” – Educator and sociologist Glenn Tucker on the substantial costs of crime on today’s Jamaican society

Thursday, 6 July 2017

LIFE + STYLE: Heed Richard Branson’s sage advice + Sign up for RTA summer tennis classes + Tune into to Flow’s new web series

CHILL SPOT: Thursday Night Live is the name of Flow’s new web-based talk show series that promises to bring together celebrity guests, juicy scoop, lifestyle tips and the kind of entertainment Jamaican viewers crave into one appealing online package. “We are always looking for new and innovative ways to use our technology to connect our customers and fans online with the things they love,” shares Flow’s Social Media Manager, Matthew Webster. “In this vein, [TNL] will be an online meeting place for our local celebrities and their fans. It’s where they can ask questions and get to know each other.” Flow has tapped popular comic and vlogger Dutty Berry (above with guest Shenseea) to host the series being piloted this summer. 

GET SOME GAME: There’s no better time than the summer months to work on your back-hand serve and full-court movements. Or sign up for a beginner’s class. Either way, you’re in luck, as the Russell Tennis Academy (RTA) has kicked off their 2017 tennis summer camp at Campion College, a training facility perfect for young upstarts (future Serenas and Novaks) and the young-at-heart. The camp, running from July 3 to August 1, offers full-day and half-day programmes and private lessons by appointment. All equipment are provided. Fees range from $3,500 per hour for private lessons; $9,000 for the weekly half-day programme and $16,000 for the weekly full-day programme. The summer flex special (choose any three days) carries a price tag of $6,000 for the half programme and $12,000 for the full programme. To sign up call 880-4337 or log on to to learn more. 

THE LITTLE THINGS: Today’s emerging entrepreneurs this side of the hemisphere would be hard-pressed to find a more ideal mentor than Richard Branson, the Virgin Empire titan who recently opened the Branson Caribbean Centre at Sovereign Centre in Liguanea, St. Andrew. Emphasizing the old adage that the customer always comes first, he dropped pearls of wisdom for those in attendance. “A lot of big companies don’t listen to their staff or the customers to get the little details right. Listen to the people who buy your products,” the multi-billion-dollar man (pictured above with PM Andrew Holness and Daryl Vaz) advised. “Listen to your staff who are on the front-line. Write things down that they tell you and then make sure that you sort those things out.”

FANTASTIC 14: Live-show contestants selected for Digicel Rising Stars’ 2017 season

THAT TIME AGAIN: Hostess Terri-Karelle amidst a sea of stardom hopefuls at auditions.

WHEN we chatted with DaWayne ‘Touriss’ Wilson during the Best School Bands Competition earlier this year, the 18-year-old Cross Keys High student made it clear that pursuing a career as a reggae-R&B singer was foremost among his future plans. He means business. For the just-launched 2017 season of Digicel Rising Stars, the impossibly tall and impressively talented chap is among the 14 stardom hopefuls who’ve survived the audition round and have advanced to the live-show round. 

Touriss, who lists Tarrus Riley and Romain Virgo among his influences, has some stiff competition to contend with, as six other talented young vocalists impressed the judges during the islandwide auditions to make the cut. While Qurios offered a rendition of “Smile Jamaica”, Faizon Brown and Short Boss hit all the right notes with their takes on “If Only For One Night” and Adele’s “All I Ask” respectively. 

Francois Martin connected with his interpretation of the pop hit “Breathless”; Affneil Lamont scored high marks for doing justice to the classic anthem “A Change’s Gonna Come,” while Jerone Riley got the nod for his rousing performance of John Legend’s “This Time.” 

Among the seven female vocalists vying for top honours, there’s a wellspring of fierce vocal ability, with standouts like Rae and Anthonia Atkinson bringing their A-game to the party. No less determined to strike gold are the Jasmines – Jasmine Collins (who wowed with “I Rise Up) and Jasmine Barnes (“All I Could Do Was Cry”) – and India Celine, who made light work of Rihanna’s “Love on the Brain.” Rounding out the list: Jada, who performed BeyoncĂ©’s “1+1” and Donica Dennis, who beautifully sang Jazmine Sullivan’s “Lions and Tigers and Bears.” 

The live show round kicks off this Sunday night, July 9, on TV-J, with Terri-Karelle Reid reprising her role as hostess, while Conroy Wilson, Alaine Laughton and Anthony Miller return to the judges’ table.

ALL IN THE FAMILY: Oliver and Volier stir up trouble and a bag of laughs in frank and funny Frenemy

TWO OF A KIND: The living legends win over the crowd with consummate ease in their latest theatrical outing.

THEY say keep your friends close and your enemies closer. How about “keep your frenemies closest”? You are bound to agree with such a sentiment after watching Frenemy, the laugh-out-loud new comedy-drama, written and directed by Oliver Samuels, that tackles some serious family-related issues. 

The production, playing at Kingston’s Jamaican Shopping Club Theatre, marks Samuels’ first on-stage collaboration with veteran co-star Volier ‘Maffy’ Johnson in well over a decade. The result is a nostalgic and well-made theatrical production that occasionally shows its stitching, but it’s such a welcome and refreshing two hours of entertainment that you can hardly dwell on any minor flaw. 

It bears repeating that the show is chock-full of enough hilarious moments to stone dog, but Samuels expertly manages to blend the humour with sobering commentary on family ties, vengeance, prejudice and the meaning of true friendship. Fred (Samuels) and Willy (Johnson), now fully grown men, have been bros since boyhood and like fraternal brethren, they’ve had their ups and downs, quarrels and fights. But they’ve always recovered and moved on. This time around, that’s easier said than done. 

Fred is about to bury his dearly departed wife Mildred, so Willy is visiting “from Amerkah”, staying at the house that Fred shares with his adult son Carl (Dennis Titus), a computer technician, and Carl’s girlfriend, Rose, nicely played by Lakeisha Ellison, an actress who continues to evolve beautifully. 

A proud, self-important type, Willy loves his food and his women. But he has a history of getting into hot water because of the opposite sex, so it comes as no surprise that Rose quickly catches his eye. When he puts the moves on her, his actions set in motion a sequence of events that climax with the kind of shocking revelations that could permanently destroy Fred and Willy’s decades-long friendship. Really shocking stuff. 

It’s a realistic, deeply resonant story populated by people you recognize almost instantly, reaffirming Samuels’ gift for capturing the essence of Jamaicanness in his work. What’s more, with him firmly planted centrestage, the big laughs just keep on coming. When Fred and Willy are not engaged in a verbal tussle, it’s Fred and Rose who are going at it, as Fred is convinced that his daughter-in-law (whose culinary shortcomings, etc, is major cause for concern) is not the right fit for his son. 

Even so, the lively cast reminds us that nothing brings a family closer together than a crisis that forces you to reassess your priorities and count your blessings. The apt set design and vivid lighting add to the show’s overall appeal. 

Today’s emerging Jamaican thespians can learn a thing or two from Johnson and Samuels about longevity and maintaining craft and professionalism (perfectionism, too) in the face of the advancing years.

With Frenemy, they easily reconnect with each other (and their longtime fans). Like true originals, they make it clear that when it comes to showbiz, there’s no substitute for experience and staying power. Tyrone’s Verdict: B+