Wednesday, 28 November 2018

TIME TO CELEBRATE: Company Dance Theatre marks 30 years of excellence with fun, festive “Umcimbi”

GRIT & GRACE: Eight works made up the company's superb 2018 show.

EXPECTATIONS were high for the Company Dance Theatre’s 30th anniversary season. How could they top their usual full-bodied display of artistic excellence? What greeted patrons and the company’s long-time supporters at the Little Theatre recently was their best season yet.

Dubbed “Umcimbi,” the recital unleashed a celebration (what else?) of motion and magic and the kind of diverse (athletic, sublime) choreography that challenged the talented young dancers to rise to a new level of expression.

Four new works (there were eight pieces in total) made up the programme. Shelly-Ann Maxwell’s “As Yet Untitled,” featuring red-clad dancers offering lithe, unformed movements to a Philip Glass score, was met with resounding applause at the end. It was short of nothing. Maxwell’s innovative approach to crafting movement and storytelling, coupled with Nadia Roxburgh’s clever lighting tricks, yielded splendid results – not to mention some great solo work from male leads Steven Cornwall and Andrew Bailey.

“In/Separable,” choreographed by Arsenio Andrade, explored defiance and dominance, power and control, with a guys-versus-the-girls motif. Clever. Unforgettable. Full of athletic prowess and accompanied by a menacing score, it hit hard with a vengeance. 

Meantime, Sade Bully’s moody “Dimensions,” a dance in four acts, was dedicated to the memory of Dexter ‘3D’ Pottinger, while Artistic Director Tony Wilson’s lugubrious “Blood at the Root” was a solo piece performed by Lindsey Lodenquai, moving to the haunting, pain-soaked strains of Nina Simone’s “Strange Fruit.” 

Wilson’s “Journey” opened the show earlier. The boys in pastel trunks/girls in matching two-piece responded with vigour and relish (lots of outstretched hands, aerial leaps) to the primal, booming music of Hans Zimmer. 

Renee McDonald, one of CDT’s most accomplished alumnae, remounted her 2016 solo piece “One80,” starring agile, androgynous beauty Courtney Payne. Stepping into that tiny circle of light – writhing, contorting, fighting back – Payne was a compelling centerpiece as a sonorous Kanye West beat drove her actions. A beautiful contrast of the tough and the tender. 

The show closed with “Calabash!,” Wilson’s signature piece of choreography, full of festive, razzle-dazzle energy and regal flair. Powered by selections from The Lion King soundtrack and committed dancers commanding the spotlight in purple and blue costumes, the dance beautifully epitomized this year’s celebration theme.

‘THE BEST IS YET TO COME’: Squash president Chris Hind talks sponsors, Chris Binnie’s discipline, and getting more youngsters playing

BIG FINISH: "With our ability, there is no stopping us," says Hind, pictured with 2018 national champions Ackeilia Wiltshire and Chris Binnie. 

THE Jamaica Squash Association capped a fantastic year with the successful staging of the BCIC-sponsored All-Jamaica Squash Championships at the Liguanea Club in New Kingston on the weekend. A sizzling men’s final match-up between Bruce Burrowes and Chris Binnie provided a super-strong finish. Association president Chris Hind was in the stands beaming with pride as the players’ adrenaline soared and the crowd roared with each exciting play. In a TALLAWAH exclusive, Hind reflected on the past 12 months and what the future holds. 

TALLAWAH: Star boy Jonathan Walker, who represented us at the Youth Olympics, is not competing at this tournament. What happened? 
Chris Hind: Unfortunately he is away and couldn’t come back in time. He’s now at college in Massachusetts. But he’s still heavily involved with our national programme. 

TALLAWAH: Good to hear. 2018 was such a big year for squash in Jamaica. Are you satisfied? 
Chris Hind: It was an excellent year. A lot of accomplishments to celebrate. We hosted the junior CASA tournament, which was a massive success. We had over 300 guests and about 120 players. The place was absolutely rockin’. Some of the representatives from Trinidad said it was the best tournament they had been to in a long time. Also, we got bronze at the PanAm Games, and Chris Binnie has been charging up the international ranks. He’s been doing really well. All in all, it’s been a very productive year. 

TALLAWAH: As you mentioned, Binnie continues to do exceptionally well and seems guaranteed another Sportsman of the Year nomination. What has been the key to his success? 
Chris Hind: Dedication, hard work, lion heart. If you get a glimpse of his training, it’s like watching a Navy Seal in action. He’s very committed to the sport, and he’s very proud to represent Jamaica on every team. 

TALLAWAH: As president, what do you hope squash achieves locally in 2019 and beyond? 
Chris Hind: We want to get more youngsters playing. Once we have them in the programme, with our speed and fitness as Jamaicans, we’ll move from being a Caribbean power in squash to a world power. The best is yet to come. With our ability, there is no stopping us. 

TALLAWAH: That said, what is the key to the future growth of the sport in Jamaica? 
Chris Hind: Just spreading the word, dipping into the inner-city a little bit to recruit some young talents and getting more kids involved. We also need to maintain our sponsorships. BCIC has been our sponsors for this tournament for the past few years, and they are a great partner for squash. That’s the kind of support we need.

Monday, 26 November 2018

ARTISTS ON DUTY: 5 Questions for Paulette Warren, President of The J’ca Photography Society

SHARP FOCUS: Photography is evolving, and today there are so many different avenues for expression,” says Warren (inset).

“THERE are places in Jamaica people don’t know about and they are beautiful to photograph,” says Paulette Warren, who has been president of the Jamaica Photography Society since March 2017. She’s been working the lens since 2013, though she’s been an avid picture-taker all her life. “It excites me, taking a weekend trip to places like Reggae Falls in St. Thomas and Turtle Bay for the first time.” You can see some of the highlights for yourself. Warren and Society founder Donnette Zacca have teamed up with 30 other photographers and the JCDC to put on “Celebrating Photography,” an exhibition showcasing over 100 new works, now open to the public, at the Jamaica Conference Centre. 

TALLAWAH: Congrats on a splendid show. 33 artists, 101 pieces on view. How did it all come together? 
Paulette Warren: It took months of planning, but we had a strategy. What we really wanted to do was have a fine arts exhibition, showcasing work by member of the society, as well as by invited guests and some of the living legends in the field. It came together well. We are satisfied with it. 

TALLAWAH: All of the pieces are on sale. Photographers need the extra money! 
PW: Absolutely. You have to have a passion to do it full-time, as a profession. Some of our members do wedding photography and they earn from that. Some of us participate in regular art and craft fairs. So there are various ways that our members make money. Some of us have other jobs, so not all of us do photography full-time. 

TALLAWAH: Is photography a dying art in Jamaica? 
PW: Definitely not. Not at all. As our guest speaker said earlier everybody has a photographic eye; everybody has a smartphone. Everybody is taking pictures, whether professionally or for personal use. Photography is evolving, and today there are so many different avenues for expression. So it is certainly evolving, not dying. 

TALLAWAH: How has the Jamaica Photography Society been growing its membership? 
PW: We now have about 45 paid-up members and we have others who attend our meetings. Our Facebook family has also been growing, and we have members who are currently based in other countries like Switzerland. Anyone who is interested in photography and attend our meetings can become a member. 

TALLAWAH: What’s the ultimate goal of the society? 
PW: We would like for Jamaica to have a photography society that can compete internationally against other photography societies. We would like for more Jamaicans to learn how to take great photographs. So we’ve been putting on workshops and classes. 

>> “Celebrating Photography” is on view at the Jamaica Conference Centre from November 25 to February 1.

2018 PAJ AWARDS: TV-J, 18 Degrees North among big winners at National Journalism honours

WINNING WAYS: Senator Ruel Reid, Sagicor's  Chorvelle Johnson, Journalist of the Year Andrea Chisholm and PAJ president George Davis.

EMCEES Patria-Kae Aarons and Dr. Michael Abrahams kept the pace light and the vibes right as they hosted the 2018 National Journalism Awards inside the Courtleigh Auditorium in New Kingston on Saturday night. As is customary, the show brought the curtains down on the Press Association of Jamaica’s Journalism Week roster of activities, allowing the country’s top reporters and editors to meet and mingle and collect awards for their outstanding work in the past year. 

PAJ president, George Davis, brought greeting on behalf of the association (announcing new education grants for young journalists as of January 2019). In his report, chief judge Patrick Harley gave kudos for the vast improvements in the quality of submissions. And entertainers Nickieshia Barnes and Jermaine Edwards thrilled the audience with their trademark powerful singing. 

As for the awardees, the night’s big winners included TV-J’s Andrea Chisholm (Journalist of the Year), TV-J’s Giovanni Dennis (Investigative Reporting), the Observer’s Racquel Porter (News Reporting – Print), 18 Degrees North’s Zahra Burton (Best TV Feature) and the Gleaner’s Gladstone Taylor (Human Interest Photography). 

>> Some of the other award winners: 

Best Radio Feature/Documentary: Giovanni Dennis (TV-J), “High Society) 
Aston Rhoden Award for News Photography: Napthtali Junior (Observer), “Poor No More” 
Environment Reporting: Kaneal Gayle (Business Access TV), “Saving Refuge Cay” 
Best Feature Story (Electronic): Zahra Burton (18 Degrees North), “Deported and Desperate” 
Children’s Rights reporting: Tyrone Reid, Tauna Thomas (Nationwide Radio), “A Path to Marginalization” 
Junior Dowie Award for Sports Photography: Gladstone Taylor (Gleaner), “Heavyweight Hookl” 
Best News, Sports or Current Affairs Blog: Susan Goffe 
Best Feature Story (Print): Kareem LaTouche (Gleaner), “Above It All” 
News Reporting (Electronic): Vashan Brown (TV-J) 
Young Journalist of the Year: Carlene Davis (Gleaner)

Saturday, 24 November 2018

50-SECOND MOVIE REVIEW: Magical ‘Nutcracker’ comes alive in dazzling 3D

CURIOUSER & CURIOUSER: Clara meets the three regents, who see her as the one sent to save their kingdom.

TIM Burton will probably grin like a Cheshire cat when he sees The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. With its visually stunning art direction, crisp 3D visuals and no shortage of whimsy, it’s like a companion piece to his beloved epic Alice in Wonderland. What’s more, it immerses viewers into a fantastical world populated by intriguing creatures and characters facing the eternal clash between good and evil. And a brave young heroine on whose slender shoulders the fate and the future of all rests. 

Mackenzie Foy plays Clara, a very poised and intelligent young lady, who is part of a close-knit family (a single dad, older sister and younger brother) and is close to her godfather, a wise old gadgetier with an eye-patch, played by Morgan Freeman. But she terribly misses her late mother, Marie (Anna Madley). When she receives an exquisite egg-like object left as a Christmas present from Mom, little does Clara know that the search for its missing key will take her on the adventure of a lifetime. 

The quest takes her into a mysterious Christmas Tree forest, which leads to a series of magical realms (Flowers, Snowflakes, Sweets), where she is befriended by the regents, Sugar Plum (Keira Knightley), Hawthorne (Eugenio Derbez) and Shiver (Richard E. Grant), who are at their wits end because of the evil Mother Ginger (Helen Mirren), who governs the fourth (Dark) realm with an iron fist with the help of her merry henchmen. Is Clara their long-awaited saviour? 

With a nutcracker soldier (Jayden Knight) by her side, the young girl musters the courage to lead their newly gathered forces into battle to vanquish the evil once and for all. 

Plotwise, Nutcracker, directed by Lass Hallstrom and Joe Johnston, with a screenplay by Ashleigh Powell, is a bit wafer-thin but it is gorgeously filmed and will charm your socks off. Tyrone’s Verdict: B

Friday, 23 November 2018

MURDER, SHE WROTE: The Innocence of Guilt delivers Mary Lynch’s revealing, emotional testimony

WHAT HAPPENED NEXT: Murray doing one the play's jail-cell scenes.

The Innocence of Guilt: The Mary Lynch Story (Whirlwind Entertainment)
Director: Andrew Roach
Cast: Rosie Murray
Venue: Jamaican Shopping Club Theatre

HOW did Mary Lynch go from a privileged background and classy upbringing in St. Catherine to getting her start as an executive secretary to morphing into a head-turning fashionista (known as Mary D.) and wife of a respected bank manager – to becoming an inmate at the maximum-security Fort Augusta women’s prison, convicted and sentenced to 14 years behind bars for the gruesome slaying of her husband, Leary?

The sordid details – including some clutch-those-pearls revelations – of this high-profile case that rocked the ’90s are laid bare in The Innocence of Guilt, a lengthy but engrossing one-woman show penned by Michael Dawson (with Mrs. Lynch’s approval) and featuring Rosie Murray in one of the year’s most unforgettable performances as the widow finally telling her side of the story. The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, according to Mary Lynch.

Did she do it? Was it self-defence? Did she lie to the police? What exactly happened that night? “I’m just here to tell you my story, to be real with you,” Murray offers in a speaking voice that’s as unfussy as it is disarming. She’s applying her makeup.

The actress, wearing a little black dress/negligee, her hair perfectly permed, takes us on a woman’s journey from childhood to adulthood: being a daddy’s girl, buying her first property at 18, going on to own 400 pairs of designer shoes (“I loved having the finer things”) to meeting Leary at the bank where she worked.

At the outset, he didn’t impress her. He wasn’t her type (too short and chubby and unkempt) but he was persistent in his courtship and she decided to take him on as a project, transform him and take him to the pinnacle of success professionally. But, according to Mrs. Lynch, he turned out to be a monster at heart. The physical violence she was eventually subjected to was unbearable. Sorry fi mawga dawg…

And Murray squanders zero opportunity to drive this point home: Mary Lynch was married to an abuser who regularly beat and battered her until that night when the tables turned. As we all know, the court said differently, convicting her for murder via indisputable evidence. But Mrs. Lynch is sticking to her report of events. 

The Innocence of Guilt, which unsurprisingly references the OJ saga, #MeToo and the Bill Cosby shocker, also allows Mary Lynch some rumour refutation (“I am not a lesbian!”) and character defense in the face of venom and lies (“I was slandered and defamed [as] that cruel ungrateful bitch who killed the man for his house!”) 

Summing it all up, with tears and a runny nose, she asserts, “I am no criminal. I have never been and will never be.” Murray is a terrific character actress and she does a fantastic job humanizing this embattled woman. Was Mary Lynch a victim? Misunderstood? An innocent woman or a cold-blooded killer? 

Dawson’s script is engagingly written but needs some trimming, especially that jail-cell scene near the end. He captures her story compellingly, but the unavoidable questions are raised. The play will enlighten viewers, yes, but certainly incense a few. 

In the end, of course, you’ll draw your own conclusions, and perhaps recall Makeda Solomon doing Who Will Sing for Lena? But overall The Innocence of Guilt is riveting stuff. You can’t wait to hear what happened that night. 

Mrs. Lynch’s testimony here is about domestic dysfunction and emotional turmoil, a marriage that goes horribly wrong, the choices and the consequences. Tyrone’s Verdict: B+

CULTURE VULTURE: Danielle Stiebel-Johnson is new JMTC Chair + “Celebrating Photography” opens Nov. 25 + Nine icons selected for Doctor Bird Awards

>> Doctor Bird Awards: Basil Dawkins, L’Antoinette Stines among honorees
The 2018 Mediamix Doctor Bird Awards will be held in early December on a date and at a venue to be announced. Nine arts-community stalwarts will be honoured at the ceremony for their outstanding contributions to their respective fields over the years. The honorees are: Norma Rodney Harrack (fine arts), Ian Randle (publishing), Bill Edwards (fashion), L’Antoinette Stines (dance), Natalie Thompson (film and television), Mutabaruka (poetry/spoken word), Gussie Clarke (music), Evan Williams (architecture) and Basil Dawkins (theatre). According to Mediamix founder Lennie Little-White, the Doctor Bird Awards programme is being relaunched this year “to celebrate Jamaicans who continue to add value to Brand Jamaica via the creative industries, while paying homage to those who paved the way.”

>> New Era: JMTC in rehearsals for Annie, appoints new Chairman
Danielle Stiebel-Johnson has been appointed Chairman of the Jamaica Musical Theatre Company. A long-serving member and practising attorney, Stiebel takes over the reins of the performing arts company, following the passing of two JMTC legends: Peter Haley, who died in England last week, and Doug Bennett, who took his final bow in 2017. “It’s a new era for the JMTC, but we want to keep the legacy alive. That’s our responsibility going forward,” Stiebel told TALLAWAH at the Company Dance Theatre’s 30th anniversary recital at the Little Theatre on Sunday. For their annual junior-theatre musical opening in January at UWI’s Philip Sherlock Centre, the JMTC is mounting a production of the beloved children’s classic Annie, with their own clever twists and Jamaican spice thrown into the mix. Akeem Mignott will be making his commercial-theatre directing debut, alongside the University Singers’ Lorenzo Smith, who is in charge of the music. Stiebel-Johnson will be wearing the producer’s hat. During the run, she says, the cast and crew will be doing a special tribute to Haley.

>> Picture This!
The Jamaica Photography Society, led by the imperious Donnette Zacca, will open their new exhibition at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston, on Sunday, Nov. 25. Titled “Celebrating Photography,” the display will be on view at the JCC until February 1.

Monday, 19 November 2018

NEWS & NOTES: 2019 Rhodes Scholarship recipient revealed + Press Association unveils Journalism Week roster of activities

>> Success Story: For new Rhodes Scholar, mama made the difference 
Manchester High old boy Chevano Baker is Jamaica’s 2019 Rhodes Scholar. The announcement was made by Governor General Sir Patrick Allen during a ceremony at King’s House on Thursday. An economist by training, the 23-year-old holds a Master’s in Financial Economics from the University of Birmingham. He grew up in Christiana, where his mother, in particular, was a tower of strength, a key player in his success story giving him principles and a firm foundation. “She is the type of mother you want. She pushes you to be yourself because of the sacrifices she makes,” he told the Gleaner. “My mother would never miss a parent-teacher meeting. She would go out of her way and even borrow money just to be at the meetings.” Next year, Baker, who got the nod for the prestigious scholarship over seven other shortlisted candidates, will pursue a PhD in Management Studies for Financial Economics at Oxford University. 

>> National Journalism Week: Public forum, awards show among scheduled events 
The Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ) is kicking off Journalism Week 2018 with a church service at Tarrant Baptist Church in Kingston on Sunday, Nov. 18, commencing at 10am. The annual Veterans Luncheon is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 21. Ahead of the luncheon, which pays tribute to icons of the profession, a free-and-open public forum (exploring the relevance of traditional news and sports) will be hosted at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel on Monday, Nov. 19 at 6pm. The panel discussion will feature Miss Kiran Maharaj (President of the T&T Publishers and Broadcasters’ Association and President of the Media Institute of the Caribbean) as main speaker. The week of activities will end with the National Journalism Awards Show & After Party at the Courtleigh Auditorium in New Kingston on Saturday, Nov. 24, starting at 7pm. Journalism Week 2018 is being held under the theme “Zealously Guarding Press Freedom.”

STYLE & SUBSTANCE: Local design talents urged to take the business of fashion more seriously

STRONG FINISH: Judges inspect the creations at Mission Catwalk's recent season finale runway show.

WHAT is Jamaican fashion? How is it defined? How is the industry being run? For local fashion-industry players to experience the kind of success they say is woefully absent, certain fundamentals have to be addressed. That was the consensus emerging from ‘Fashion and the Creative Economy,’ the second industry forum put on by Designers Guild of Jamaica, hosted by the University of Technology, last Sunday.

“We need to properly map it out as an industry. It’s not just about fashion design and selling stylish clothes. We’re struggling to put together all those components that make up an ‘industry’,” argued Valerie Veira, CEO of the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC), who was part of a seven-member panel. “The business aspect needs to be taken more seriously. We need to pay attention to building up the development aspect of fashion. So, at JBDC we are now actively working to see how we can build back the fundamentals because right now there are many gaps.”

Style Observer editor Novia McDonald-Whyte agrees. “Here’s the reality. We have to take ourselves seriously. We have to take our work seriously. Nobody else will. We have a lot of catching up to do,” she told the gathering. “We have to be serious about what we do. The designers have to take what they do seriously to get the kind of recognition they want. Which of our local designers is dressing Usain Bolt, Sean Paul and Spice, who broke down the internet the other day?”

International Jamaican-born designer Matthew Harris of Mateo New York expressed similar sentiments. “Once we begin to define what is Jamaican fashion and refine it, then we will be able to open it up to international markets. How do we package our brands as designers to attract international attention?” he noted.

This is Robert Scott’s area of expertise. “The first thing we have to do is define what is Jamaican fashion. A lot of what is happening is very fragmented. So an entity like the Guild is very important,” said the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association director. “All stakeholders need to come around the table and decide what the next move is, because ultimately to be successful in fashion you have to export. We need to work it out in a very strategic way. But starting with this forum, I do believe the Guild is on the right track.”

Contributions also came from the EU’s Malgorzata Wasilewska (who spoke of possible economic partnerships between locals and Europeans), the British Council’s Olayinka Jacobs-Bonnick and Guild founder Keneea Linton-George, who raised the issue of proper education for tailors and seamstresses and the critical role of institutions like the HEART Trust/NTA in this regard.

The Designers Guild is a professional non-profit organization representing established and emerging designers, with the objective of playing a key role in guiding them towards tangible value and sustainable growth.

ON THE SCENE: Highlights from #YouthMonth launch, Restaurant Week kick-off, and the Mission Catwalk finale

INNER GODDESS: Nov. 10, St. Andrew. Designer Mercy-Ann Copeland and her leggy model work the runway at the end of Copeland’s collection unveiling at the glitzy Mission Catwalk season six finale at Devon House on Saturday night. (Photo: Skkan Media)

RIPPED & READY: Nov. 10, Kingston. Band leader Andrew Bellamy (second right), members of his team and some costume-clad showgirls were over the moon as they celebrated the launch of Xaymaca’s 2018 road-show season, dubbed Iconic, at the National Stadium on the weekend. (Photo: Skkan Media)

MY TREAT: Nov. 4, St. Andrew. For the second straight year, Restaurant Week organizers hosted a free-to-the-public launch on the front lawns of Devon House, drawing scores of excited foodies (including this pair of samplers) to get a taste of what the participating eateries have in store. (Photo: Skkan Media)

COOKIES! Nov. 4, St. Andrew. The Gleaner girls were too cute for words, rocking chic outfits (complete with kitchen-ready headgear), as the 2018 Restaurant Week launch took over the lawns of Devon House last Sunday. (Photo: Skkan Media)

GENERATION NEXT: Nov. 2, Kingston. Announcing the plans and activities for the observance of Youth Month (under the theme “Level Up”), state minister Floyd Green is flanked by a pair of bright young ladies at the recent launch. (Photo: Sleek)

Friday, 16 November 2018

DRAMAFEST 2018: Two provocative plays look at class, pride and family dynamics

WRONG ADDRESS: The negative social forces that prey on impressionable and vulnerable Jamaican youngsters, as well as the scourge of poverty, bubble to the surface in Step Up Ghetto Yout’, a short community-theatre production that opened this year’s Dramafest (put on by Freedom Ministry) at the Phoenix Theatre. It centres on Twister (Lachim Cunningham), a promising schoolboy who wants a better life than what the zinc fence/standpipe setup of No Man’s Land is offering. But his close pal Slinger (David Smith) is a bad influence, eager to immerse him in the rudebwoy lifestyle. Luckily, Twister’s tough-cookie schoolmate and neighbour Ginger (Karen Wright) is keeping tabs on their so-called friendship. The play’s sizeable cast is comprised of other folks also trying to make it amidst life’s harsh realities: struggling shopkeeper Miss Pat (Creslyn Thomas), a deportee they call Dippie (André Alleyne), matriarch Miss Precious (Karen Fray), a fallen-on-hard-times big shot named Slick (Mark Rush) and the ghetto-fabulous Poochie (Staci-Ann Goodison), who has ‘big plans’ for Ginger. When a mysterious fire destroys living quarters in their tenement yard, they quickly realize they must put aside their differences and unite in the name of survival. In the end, Step Up Ghetto Yout’ is both entertaining and thought-provoking, examining the plight of the lower-income class with ample humour and utter realism.

DIRTY LAUNDRY: Somewhere between the realms of August: Osage County and the TV hit Empire you’ll find the antics of the family members at the heart of Granddaddy Legacy which, in spite of occasionally melodramatic moments, crackles with dramatic tension and emotional heft. Patriarch Mr. Percy has died, and his departure prompts bereaved relatives to show their true colours. All the deep-seated resentment, jealousies and long-buried rage come to the fore. Adult siblings Dimples (Patricia Martin), Donna (Karen Wright), Peter (Mark Rush) and Desrine (Paula Thompson) are at loggerheads over Daddy’s dead lef’, much to the dismay of widow Mrs. Percy (Karen Fray). The action comes to a boil when it’s time for the contents of the will to be disclosed. But things take an explosive turn when granddaughter Sue (Stacy-Ann Morgan-Duvalier) phones the authorities to expose shocking family secrets. It’s a crafty little play, full of grit, wit and convincing performances. B+

Thursday, 15 November 2018

NEWS FEED: Major changes for BOJ + Lloyd Distant is new JCC head + JHTA president addresses tourist safety concerns

>> ‘Our resorts are safe’: JHTA boss reassures locals, foreign visitors
Are Jamaican officials worried over any possible negative impact on the tourism sector in the wake of the USA Today article highlighting cases of sexual assault at numerous Jamaican-based resorts over the years? According to President of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA), Omar Robinson, time will tell. “It is a little bit early to say there will be any fallout. [Some] properties have received queries about concerns for safety, and properties were able to reassure the guests that they are safe,” Robinson said in a Gleaner interview. “Our resorts are safe and they provide that secured environment that visitors have come to expect over the years.” What’s more, Robinson insists, crimes against tourists almost never go unreported. “I don’t think there was any attempt or any deceptions at all to cover up any incidents. Usually when such incidents happen the properties work along with the local police, if it is a police matter, and the other stakeholders [like] the Tourist Board, which would advise the embassies.”

>> Operational changes coming for Bank of Jamaica
In the wake of proposed legislation, major changes are afoot for operations at the central bank, the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ). The proposed amendments relate to the Bank of Jamaica Act, Banking Services Act, and the Public Bodies Management and Accountability Act. According to the finance ministry, under the proposed reforms, Finance Minister Dr. Nigel Clarke will no longer give directions on monetary policy, thereby giving the central bank greater autonomy and making the entity operationally independent.

>> J’ca Chamber of Commerce elects new president
Lloyd Distant has been installed as President of the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC). Replacing Larry Watson, Distant heads up an executive that includes Michael McMorris (1st Vice-President), Ian Neita (2nd VP), Keith Collister (3rd VP) and Melanie Subratie (4th VP). Lazarus Bucknor and Michael G. Ammar are the directors emeritus. “Over the coming year and beyond, the chamber will be a more vocal proponent of the things that will maintain and continue to drive growth,” says the president. “We are urging the government to provide more opportunities for local businesses to participate in the myriad of planned infrastructure projects.”

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

@THEDISH: D’Angel sizzles at MC finale; Miss Kitty, wonder woman; Celebs share their ‘style star’ picks

>> Blazin’: D’Angel plans to end 2018 “with a bang” 
All eyes were on dancehall diva D’Angel as she ripped the runway at the star-studded Mission Catwalk season finale showdown at Devon House on Saturday night. Sexy and slender with legs for days, the 30-plus-year-old star opened the show with a fiery performance of a medley of her hits, oozing sex appeal in a multi-layered blush-pink number designed by her go-to girl Pebblez, who collaborated with her stylist Stephanie Fashion. A team leader for this season’s Celebrity Edition, D’Angel says 2018 surpassed her expectations. “I’m looking to end the year with a bang,” she tells The Dish. “I always spend this time of year in Jamaica, so I’m looking forward to doing a lot of work towards the end of the year. I have a number of road shows coming up, new music and new videos. So most of my focus will be on those projects and continuing to please the fans.” 

>> How does she do it? Miss Kitty on her A-game 
How did Miss Kitty manage to juggle so many projects and responsibilities throughout the year and still earn a First Class Honours degree in Law at UWI – and the title of valedictorian for the graduating class? “I had to cut out most, if not all of my leisure time,” she confessed to a Gleaner reporter. “I can remember that I had a show in Barbados on a Sunday and a criminal law exam the following Tuesday. I flew to Barbados on Saturday, did the show on Sunday, flew back to Jamaica on Monday and did the exam on Tuesday.” So what’s next for the wonder woman, who holds a BA in English in addition to her new LLB? Is she planning to open up her own practice? “There is no specific area I’m zoned in on yet,” she says. “The most important thing for me is to always be the best version of myself, so as to inspire others to do the same.” 

>> Who is a style star? The Dish on duty @ Mission Catwalk finale 

Marisa Benain: “Carlton Brown. Just look at him. Always exquisite. There not many of them around. (Laughs).” 

Carlton Brown: “Colin Hylton. He uses nice blends of colours. Always well put together. You always look at his outfits and say ‘Wow’.” 

D’Angel: “Beenie Man. He’s been setting the trends even before he became big. And I love Beyoncé. She can do no wrong for me.”

Saturday, 10 November 2018

WOMAN TIME: A Letter from the Editor

GETTING IT DONE: White and Murray are both in the midst of major new professional projects.

IT just so happens that this month’s issue has morphed into a salute to formidable women across the age spectrum who are making their presence felt. Even more fascinating, two of them are first-time authors. While incredible wise woman Pat Reid-Waugh draws on her vast expertise as a coach and resource person to share tips on retirement living (from her must-read book Retirement: A New Adventure), Mary White is all about reflection and soul-searching and counting your blessings. 

White’s recently launched devotional Glass Houses (which has spawned a national book tour) will move you in profound ways and, as you will discover after reading “Time to Reflect,” so too will her personal narrative. White is one of those doers who know how to push and excel but still, modestly, consider themselves works-in-progress. The honesty is refreshing. At 40-plus, she says, she’s still making mistakes and learning, but there’s no stopping her when it comes to making strides on the road to the top. 

It’s the same kind of thinking that propels Neisha Yen Jones, who not only radiates outer beauty on our cover but brings amazing inner beauty and candour to my conversation with her for “Having It Her Way.” By all accounts, the Daytime Live hostess has set no ceiling for what she will accomplish in her lifetime. Further diversifying that impressive résumé (Broadway actress, prize-winning choreographer, TV personality, dance lecturer, doting mom) is the name of her game, and we’re intrigued to see what she will accomplish next. Is first-time author in her future? It would come as no surprise. 

What you will find surprising – shocking, maybe – are the never-before-revealed details about the Mary Lynch murder saga that rapidly emerge in The Innocence of Guilt, playwright-producer Michael Dawson’s theatrical take on the scandal that rocked Jamaica in the ’90s. 

For this controversial one-woman show, Thespy and Actor Boy winner Rosie Murray steps into the role of the still-embattled Mrs. Lynch and bares all! As I am writing this, I’d just seen the production the previous evening, and it is riveting stuff that will raise a few eyebrows and certainly ruffle a few feathers. 

Meantime, on a lighter note, November will bring our usual coverage of Youth Month events, Restaurant Week activities and lots of highlights from the latest happenings in and around this culture capital of the Caribbean.

HAVING IT HER WAY: Neisha Yen Jones gets real about the single life, women and power, and making strides

THE TALENTED MISS JONES: The TV host is all about doing you and embracing your power.

In a TALLAWAH exclusive, Actor Boy winner, TV hostess and cover girl Neisha Yen Jones takes us inside her world! Great company for conversation, she dishes on everything from career moves and making strides to women and power, and why a gorgeous girl like her is still single. 
* * * * *

ON this cool August night in Kingston, the Miss Jamaica Universe coronation show is unfolding a few doors away from the table where Neisha Yen Jones and I are discussing the remarkable career evolution that now has her positioned as one of the hottest stars on Jamaican TV. This, of course, is thanks to the increasingly popular gabfest Daytime Live, which she’s been co-hosting for the past two years. 

“One thing I would say is that my career always has me growing,” she tells me. “When I was younger, I never thought I was pretty enough to be on TV, and that kind of thinking brought me dread. But I decided that I wasn’t going to let my fear deter me from the possibility of being great.”

She’s come a long way. With résumé highlights including Broadway and West End productions (The Lion King, Stomp), Actor Boy-winning work as a choreographer (2015’s At the Barricade), education (lecturing at the EMC School of Dance) and the list goes on, Jones continues to find work that pushes her to achieve greatness. 

That’s why she’s so happy that Daytime Live has found a niche, and that she’s now part of a product that’s educating, entertaining and empowering Jamaicans of all ages. “It’s a very important show, and we strive to keep it fresh and relevant. Sometimes on TV a lot of the material fails to connect with viewers as it should. A talk show is where the influence is, how people can spread information, so it’s a very important platform,” she argues. “As a society, we’re feeling certain social pressures, and it’s nice to let people come on and talk about it. It’s a great medium for self-expression.” 

And as the proliferation of social media has proven, self-expression is the new entertainment of our age. Even so, Jones will be the first to tell you that the Neisha you see holding her own with opinionated co-hosts Craigy T, Joel, Dufton and Sanique wasn’t always this confident and outspoken. “To be honest, I wasn’t confident enough. Even now I’m very shy. I love being quiet. I don’t like the party scene. One of my favourite things to do is curl up with a book.” 

So how does one reconcile the shy girl with the megawatt-diva persona people so readily associate with the name Neisha Yen Jones? As she tells it, it’s simply a matter of definition. “Being a diva means you’re learned about your craft. You’re a professional. You’re among the best. Aretha Franklin was a diva. I am great at what I do. I embrace that, so yes I am a diva,” she states frankly. “My objective is that I set out to be excellent, do a good job all the time. I set out to be on time, to be professional, and I strive to accomplish that every single time. I live my life like that,” she explains, dressed in black with big diva hair and big diva earrings. 

In the same vein, she subscribes to the notion that you can’t please everybody and there are some people you’ll never please. “I know I’m not for everybody, and everybody is not for me. And I’m okay with that. In England, being the only Black girl in ballet class forced me to work harder. I used my differences and my challenges to empower me.” 

That said, Jones is quick to put the global status quo in perspective. In the wake of #MeToo, she says, women are winning, women are more empowered than ever. “I think women are running the world right now,” she insists, laughing. “At Daytime Live our three bosses are women. At Edna Manley College, the heads [of department] are women. At JMMB women are in power. And because we’re working so hard, we are able to have our cake and eat it.” 

A single mom, Jones’ 14-year-old biracial daughter, Bailie-Marie, is following very closely in mommy’s footsteps. She wants to sing and dance and act, and Jones is giving her all the encouragement she needs, while juggling the many side projects (playwrighting, part-time academic studies, teaching dance classes) that continue to add colour and scope to her full life. 

She isn’t satisfied yet. And can you blame her? At the top of her wish list for 2019 and beyond is a husband, with whom she’ll have her next child. “I’d like a son. But it has to be with somebody who can teach him how to be a man,” she says, her voice full of yearning. “The reason I’m single is not that I can’t get a guy, it’s just that the men who come aren’t pushing as hard as they should.”

But she’s not giving up hope. Women can have it all. “I want to have my cake and I want to eat it, too. And I want to come back for seconds.” Neisha laughs. “You only live once.”

Friday, 9 November 2018

GIVING WITH ‘LOVE’: Stacy-Lee Myrie and her dance company expertly combine performing arts and service to society

YOUNG AT ART: Ycats dancers performing at From the Arts with Love 2018.

THERE is no greater reward than the personal growth and sense of fulfilment that comes from being of service to others. Just ask Stacy-Lee Myrie, the Artistic Director of Ycats dance company (formerly BaSiS) which, for the past decade, has been using their ‘From the Arts with Love’ dance theatre production to raise funds for outreach projects benefiting young and needy Jamaicans.

“Our main objective is to use our time and our talents to serve humanity,” Myrie tells TALLAWAH during an interview at the Little Theatre a few days after the successful staging of Decennium 10, their tenth annual show. “We use the proceeds to do our charitable work.”

By that she means the Ycats team uses the funds to purchase appliances, clothing, school supplies and other gifts that they bring to children’s homes in and around the corporate area. So far they’ve worked with 10 homes in total, a list that includes the SOS Children’s Village, Maxfield Park and the National Children’s Home, among others. 

But that’s not all. Myrie and her team have taken a deeper interest in these wards of the state, bringing them to the theatre to see the dance production. “Each year we take about 100 kids to see the show, and they really enjoy it,” she says. “They get to interact with people they don’t usually get to interact with and enjoy an experience they don’t usually get to.” 

As Myrie stated in her message introducing this year’s milestone show, “Service to humanity is not just about showing passion and empathy to each other in times of need, but also engaging our hearts and minds in exercising kindness in all walks of life, regarding love in high esteem and helping to build sustainable value in our society.” 

By day, Myrie is a human resources manager, a post that allows her to further indulge her love of service to others. The dance world, she adds, is where her love of the arts takes flight beyond the stage. “The passion I have for dance,” she tells TALLAWAH, “has allowed me to help people. I believe in stewardship.” 

These days, Ycats pride themselves on being providers of not only dance classes but also dance gear, accessories and costume rental. Taking in their show at the Little Theatre, you are wowed by the infectious exuberance of the young performers (from Junior-A to Senior-A), the rich colour palette and exquisite costuming and the diversity of material that the choreographers supplied. 

According to Myrie, the focus is now on future growth, the next 10 years of Ycats and new projects like their planned street-boys initiative. “We want to send some of those street boys to school,” Myrie explains. “The plan is to save up so we can extend this kindness to more of society’s less fortunate.”

RETIREMENT LIVING: Pat Reid-Waugh on having the time of your life as a retiree

BETWEEN THE PAGES: "Live, don't just exist!" is Reid-Waugh's message.

IN her first book, Retirement: A New Adventure, Patricia Reid-Waugh, one of our favourite wise women, shares tried-and-tested wisdom centred on how to get the most out of life as a retiree. There’s plenty to do and enjoy, the author and coach tells her readers, in the pursuit of fulfilment and a sense of adventure in this your new chapter. A venerable resource and reference guide, Reid-Waugh’s book gets candid about everything from maximizing your travel plans, connecting with the world online, getting innovative, and how to turn your hobbies into income generators. 

>> Go! 
Reid-Waugh believes in living by a list. Ticking off one accomplishment after the other. “Oh, the education and knowledge I have gained from travelling! I visited Nelson Mandela’s prison cell in South Africa. Standing in a place where history profoundly changed for the better through one man’s strength moved me to tears,” she remembers. “I went rafting on one of the wildest rivers in Africa. I visited the ‘Church of Gold’ in Italy, attended dinner parties in Sweden. Along the way I put together a bucket list of the many other travel opportunities I wanted to pursue.” For her, the pleasure has been immense. “In retirement, with time and flexibility as my best friends, I am ticking destinations off that bucket list one trip at a time, and loving every moment of it.” 

>> Surprise yourself, try something new 
“I was in New York and, on impulse, sent a request to The Wendy Williams Show to attend the following day’s taping, explaining that I was a visitor to the country and there for a limited time,” she recalls. “I was elated at receiving the invitation within a couple of hours. The following day, I experienced the excitement of this live talk show in person, and I walked away with several gifts that were given to people in attendance.” 

>> Be safe, be smart 
Vigilance is paramount, Reid-Waugh cautions. Seniors in particular, have to be on their guard in cyberspace and elsewhere in the realm of technological advancement. “Never access a bank account or put in credit card info when you are using a public Wi-Fi network. If you can help it, do not even put in the password for websites that are linked to your bank account or credit card,” she advises. Also watch out for scammers, she continues. “Never respond to an email advising that you have won money in a contest, lottery or sweepstake you have not entered. Unfortunately, these are popular scams intended to entice you to disclose your personal information and con you into releasing funds purportedly for the payment of taxes, insurance and other fees associated with ‘winnings’,” she explains. “Legitimate contests, lotteries and sweepstakes will never ask you to pay any costs at any time in order to cash in on the winnings. Such costs are always deducted from the winnings at source.” 

>> Give back and pay it forward 
For many retirees, volunteering goes hand in hand with mentorship, Reid-Waugh says, and is just as fulfilling. “The ways to volunteer are almost limitless. Nearly every hospital, charity, school, library, service club and place of worship has room for volunteers. As such, the consideration is not how to find opportunities to volunteer, but rather which opportunities fit you best,” the author shares. Pass on your wisdom, she is quick to add. “As retirees, we have a lot of experience under our belts. This is experience from which the world can benefit. Volunteering has its own rich rewards for you. [It’s] a great way to meet interesting and like-minded people, make younger friends and acquire surrogate children with whom you may establish satisfying and lasting relationships.” 

Read Part 1 of our interview with Reid-Waugh 

Order your copy of Retirement: A New Adventure!