Saturday, 18 November 2017

INCREDIBLE LEGENDS: Media fraternity mourns passing of RJR’s J. Lester Spaulding + J’ca Musical Theatre Company bids farewell to late Chairman Doug Bennett

CURTAIN CALL: The Jamaica Musical Theatre Company (JMTC) is the venerable institution it is today, thanks in large part to the tireless efforts of one man, Doug Bennett, the pioneering Chairman who passed away on October 30 and was laid to rest following a thanksgiving service at the University Chapel, Mona, on Friday. David Tulloch is among the theatre practitioners who have been paying tribute to him. Earlier in their careers they came under Bennett’s sway and readily admit to owing him a debt of gratitude. “I can safely say that if it wasn’t for Doug Bennett, I wouldn’t have had the experiences in musical theatre that I have had. I gained a lot of knowledge that I’ve brought into my adult life. He was like a mentor to me, and I’m happy to be a part of the legacy that he has left behind,” Tulloch told TALLAWAH in a post-service interview later on at the Phoenix Theatre. Tulloch’s involvement with the JMTC in recent years, under Bennett’s watchful eye, has seen him co-organizing their annual concerts and directing productions like the acclaimed At the Barricades in 2015. Still going strong at age 88 at the time of his passing, Bennett helped usher the JMTC (and its sibling the Jamaica Junior Theatre Company) into its most successful chapter, highlighted by such triumphant and memorable shows as Aida, Cats, Pan, Nesta’s Rock, The Wiz, and many more. Bennett received the Order of Distinction in 2014. 

THE MEASURE OF A MAN: Jamaicans from all walks have been saddened by news of the passing of J. Lester Spaulding, the stalwart whose name was very often mentioned in the same sentence as the RJR/Gleaner Communications Group, the media titan that he led as Chairman to its present perch as one of the leading media brands in the English-speaking Caribbean. Spaulding died at hospital on Friday morning after ailing for some time. He was 76 years old. The tributes have been pouring in. The Media Association of Jamaica (MAJ) hailed Spaulding for his “instrumental and dedicated work in the advancement of print and electronic media in the Caribbean.” His legacy, the MAJ said, will continue to impact the work of media houses across the region. The Broadcasting Commission called Spaulding “a shrewd manager” who had a “stellar career in media administration.” His passing, the Commission said, has left a void in the media fraternity. A former Chairman of the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) and a former director of the Caribbean News Agency (CANA) – playing a pivotal role in its establishment – Spaulding was inducted into the Caribbean Broadcasting Union (CBU) Hall of Fame in 2011. The Order of Distinction (Commander Class) is among his many honours.

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