Wednesday, 27 February 2019

GROUNATION 2019: Former dancehall queen Carlene Smith likens dancehall to a perennial scapegoat

RAP SESSION: This year's series opened with an all-female cast; (Below) Carlene Smith.

“IT’S easy to blame dancehall,” said Carlene Smith, more popularly known to Jamaicans as the original Dancehall Queen Carlene. Smith was part of a four-member panel (with psychologist Chris Charles, young academic Robin Clarke and moderator Coleen Douglas) discussing the sub-topic “Dancehall Stardom: Crime, Justice and Punishment” at Sunday’s closing session of the 2019 Grounation series, put on by the Jamaica Music Museum at the Institute of Jamaica’s lecture hall. 

According to Smith, because dancehall is seen as poor people’s music, feeding the socio-economic concerns of (particularly) folks from the lower strata of society, it is perennially scapegoated for a lot of the ills plaguing contemporary society. “As Jamaicans, as long as something is not from the background that we expect, it is going to get a fight,” she emphasized. “Too many people are staying on the outside and judging what’s going on on the inside of the dancehall industry.”

Smith, who shot to fame as a performer of the latest dances taking Jamaica by storm, also recalled a particularly painful period for her, which came as she strived to make a name for herself. “I grew up on dancehall culture. It’s what I knew; it’s what I loved, but because I was a brown-skin girl dancing in my skimpy outfits, there were people who looked down on me; because I dared to dance and celebrate my Jamaican culture. It was like how dare I represent dancehall.”

Looking back now, Carlene says she was unfazed by the harsh criticism. “It’s my culture, and I love it, and I’m going to represent it,” she said. “I toured the world as a dancehall representative.” 

Meanwhile, as the afternoon discussion took flight, thought-provoking arguments emerged from all angles. While panelist Chris Charles argued that, “Jamaicans make more noise about the transgressions in dancehall than in other spaces,” audience member Elaine Wint firmly expressed her point that “Dancehall cannot exist without a sense of responsibility and accountability.” Robin Clarke is in favour of increased artiste development and less censorship. 

Madame moderator Coleen Douglas echoed the views of many when she touched on the issue of power and creative influence. “Dancehall is here to stay,” she conceded. “But [the artistes] have a responsibility to society. To whom much is given, much is expected.” 

Over the course of four weeks, this year’s Grounation series tackled the overarching theme “As Free as We Want to Be: Dancehall – A Liberating Ethic.”

OUR FAREWELL TRIBUTE: Aston Cooke lived and loved the Jamaican theatre and our island culture

 A MAN APART: Cooke had an eye for real talent and crafted entertaining fare, like the hilarious Jamaica 2 Rahtid (pictured below).

“…and Tyrone never lies.”

This glowing recommendation coming from Aston Cooke as he spoke to a colleague about my work as a theatre critic one evening at the Pantry Playhouse, circa 2013. Aston enjoyed my reviews; he looked forward to my thoughts, via TALLAWAH, on his latest plays, other theatre productions, and the work of established and emerging theatre practitioners that I regularly write about, in keeping with my job as a culture chronicler.

The respect was mutual. And I am sure I speak for theatregoers and industry people alike when I say that, as a writer/producer, Aston Cooke produced work that stood up to scrutiny and had something meaningful to say, making solid additions to the body of work that constitutes Jamaican theatre. Who can forget hits like Concubine?, Jonkanoo Jamboree, Internet Affair, Children Children and Me & Mi Chapsie, to name just a few of his best offerings?

Then there are the mini productions he crafted for the Jamaica Youth Theatre (a product of Schools’ Drama Festival) to bring to the international stage. The JYT, especially in recent years, garnered critical acclaim and multiple accolades (and not just at UWI’s Tallawah festival), thanks in large part to Cooke’s expert guidance. He knew how to unearth, mould, nurture young talents.
To that end, several of today’s marquee names in theatre (Dahlia Harris, Sheldon Shepherd, Deon Silvera, among them) will credit Aston Cooke for the pivotal role he played in getting them established in the fickle showbiz world.

It was hardly surprising that, prior to his passing, Aston (collaborating with Weston Haughton) agreed to take up the gargantuan task of co-producing the annual Miss Jamaica World pageant! Yes, he was a hefty man who had it in him to take on hefty roles – and he did so with mucho gusto. He even served the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) as Chairman at one point.

And speaking of the JCDC, you’d always see Aston at their events, armed with his trusty camera, capturing priceless images to add to his personal treasure trove and to share on social media.

Aston Cooke loved his island culture. For some, he was an authority on all things Jamaican – the theatre and beyond. A past co-producer of the Actor Boy Awards, his presence in the grand scheme of things will be terribly missed.

Walk good, Aston. Your legacy is in capable hands. And your little friend Tyrone is still here, continuing the work, in Jamaica 2 Rahtid.

JAMAICA DAY: Students give thanks for opportunity to increase their cultural awareness

CULTURE CORNER: Photo highlights from the day's activities at the National Arena. 

SEVERAL elements came together in harmonious unison last Friday to make the 2019 Jamaica Day festivities inside the National Arena a huge success. Students and their chaperones, many of them appropriately clad in the national colours, came from as far as Trelawney’s Westwood High to attend.

For Attalee Runcie of The Queen’s School, there was one particular moment that stood out. “I really enjoyed the Jamaica Moves segment. The nice vibe and the energy made it a great activity for us,” the 17-year-old told TALLAWAH, adding that the day’s wide-ranging activities offered a fantastic learning experience. “I enjoyed learning more about the country’s history and culture, and why it’s important to be a proud Jamaican.”

Tarique Lyons voiced similar sentiments. “I like the overall vibe, and that they had different sections, like the JDF, for you to visit to get information,” shared the 16-year-old Kingston College chap, who also learned a couple of new folk songs.

With PEP exams on the horizon, Kemsha Solomon of Mountain View Primary was grateful for the ‘extra lessons.’ “I think an event like this is important because you can become more knowledgeable. You might get an exam one day, and they ask you a question about something, and you might have learned the answer here,” the 12-year-old noted.

Among the other schools represented were Ferncourt High, Excelsior and Papine High. Throughout the day, the youngsters flocked to booths mounted by various government agencies, teachers’ colleges and a variety of food purveyors, including Grace.

A lively entertainment package capped the day’s offerings, with performances by Charlemont’s Rhumbakah Mento Band, the Jamaica College Band and special guest artistes.

Friday, 22 February 2019

NEWS & NOTES: Prince Charles embarking on C’bean tour next month … Mustard Seed gets hefty multi-million-dollar donation … New energy minister ready for the hard work

>> Fayval Williams vows to “restore confidence” in energy ministry
“Right now, what the Jamaican people want is for their hope and trust to be restored in this [ministry], so that is first,” says the newly installed Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Fayval Williams, speaking to journalists at the recent ceremonial opening of Parliament in Kingston. Williams says her team is not backing down from the challenges that lie ahead. “We will go in and begin the process of restoring their trust and confidence in these institutions.” For one thing, Williams is quick to emphasize, the Government will be forging ahead with the compulsory acquisition of the embattled oil refinery, Petrojam.

>> Prince Charles to commence C’bean tour in St. Lucia
On March 17, Britain’s Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, will be embarking on a tour of the Caribbean. The Prince and the Duchess will kick off their tour in St. Lucia, and will be guests of honour at an event (hosted by GG Sir Neville Cenac and PM Allen Chastenet) to mark the island’s 40th year of Independence. The island-hopping tour will also include visits to Barbados, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, St. Kitts & Nevis, Grenada, Cayman and Cuba, which Charles and Camilla will be visiting for the first time. The Caribbean tour is scheduled to end on March 29.

>> Digicel Foundation makes $16.5M donation to Mustard Seed
The Mustard Seed Communities has received a $16.5 million donation from the Digicel Foundation. Among the projects to be funded is the construction of a new multi-purpose centre at their St. Catherine-based Jerusalem residential care facility, catering to children with special needs. The new centre will house an art therapy room, an arts and craft and woodworking workshop, a home economics centre, a reception hall, gift shop, a computer-education area, and a classroom for adult literacy. “Through this partnership with Mustard Seed, we continue to enhance the lives of persons with special needs,” says Dennis O’Brien, founder and patron of the Digicel Foundation. “Valuable skills will be learnt here, skills that will empower and prepare our young people to participate in the society and lead wholesome, productive lives.”

STAY WITH US: Ellis International puts a comedic spin on hotel hospitality with Bigger Boss?

BE OUR GUEST: The show's five co-stars on the promotional poster

IT’s a balmy Tuesday night in New Kingston, and the excitement inside this attractive little room at the Spanish Court Hotel’s Worthington enclave is palpable. Media peers and a selection of entertainment industry personnel are here for the launch of “Jamaica’s first international sitcom,” Bigger Boss?, the newest television vehicle from Ellis International, who gave us 10 seasons of The Ity & Fancy Cat Show before bringing the curtains down in 2018.

For the entertainment company, Bigger Boss? represents an ambitious step towards bringing unprecedented and revolutionary products to Jamaican television audiences. “We’re hoping to introduce the kind of products that will have an impact beyond Jamaica. We want people to be watching within the Diaspora and further overseas. That is our aim going forward,” explains a dapperly attired Owen ‘Blakka Ellis, Director of Ellis International and one of the scriptwriters behind Bigger Boss? “This show, in particular, is vibrant sketch comedy that we hope will get syndicated.”

Fans of The Ity & Fancy Cat Show are essentially being treated to another laugh riot. In the tradition of Smile Orange, Bigger Boss? Takes viewers inside the operations of a local tourist-friendly hotel (Suite Jamaica) and ratchets up the comedy by zooming in on the antics of its colourful staff, led by Ian ‘Ity’ Ellis (manager Mr. Brown), Camille Davis (resident hot girl/ concierge Tandi) and Alton ‘Fancy Cat’ Hardware as Woodstock, who “gets a work” as the new odd-jobs handyman. 

Zosia McGregor and Rushane Campbell round out the cast as front-desk staffers welcoming and registering guests. Expect cameo appearances by Alaine, Noelle Kerr, Christopher Martin and Leonie Forbes, among others.

Ity Ellis, who doubles as executive producer, says the idea was born in 2016, as he reflected on the many kinds of conflicts managers and their staff encounter in the workplace. It’s something he wanted to explore, and after spending much of 2017 wooing sponsors, he got yeses from Jamaica National and KFC.

“We knew it was going to be something special, creative and humorous, that people here and overseas can look forward to,” says KFC brand manager, Andrei Roper, a super fan of The Ity & Fancy Cat Show. “The brand of comedy that you have brought us was in a class by itself. It was sad to see The Ity & Fancy Cat Show go after 10 years, but we knew something better would replace it. What you guys bring to the landscape makes us happy to be on board [with Bigger Boss?] and we’re looking forward to a spectacular season one.” 

Jamaica National’s Dana Morris-Dixon lauded Ellis International for “the creative energy” they bring to the entertainment melting pot and for encouraging Jamaicans to “think big” and “think bold.” 

According to Fancy Cat, Jamaicans will enjoy Bigger Boss? much more than The Ity & Fancy Cat Show, and Camille Davis agrees. “It’s going to be like something never experienced before,” she says. “It’s comedy, but it will open people’s eyes and give a fresh perspective of who we are as Jamaicans.” 

>> Season One of Bigger Boss? brings 10 episodes to TV-J, starting Sunday, Feb. 17.

JUMPING THE BROOM: Romi & Julie spins clever tragi-comedy from classic Shakespeare

SERIOUS TING: Campbell and Burton and costars in a scene from the play.

Romi & Julie (Jambiz Productions)
Director: Trevor Nairne and Patrick Brown
Cast: David Crossgill, Keisha Patterson, Sakina Deer, Kevoy Burton and Glen Campbell
Venue: Centrestage Theatre, New Kingston

THE famous balcony scene in the William Shakespeare tragedy Romeo & Juliet reimagined in Jamaican patois – and set in the Jamaican ghetto, no less – should be super-funny. For proof, look no further than Patrick Brown’ Romi & Julie, the new Jambiz musical comedy, which finds the master storyteller offering an ambitious send-up of the literary classic. The results are indeed hilarious.

Standing in for the Montagues and the Capulets are the Gully and Gaza factions, rival gangs whose members despise each other. Then there’s the rub: leader of the Gazarists, Romi (David Crossgill), has made Julie (a spot-on Keisha Patterson) the apple of his eye. But she’s the precious daughter of Gullyrites boss Papa Don (Glen Campbell, superb), whose confinement to a wheelchair is no hindrance for his larger-than-life persona or his ruthless, trigger-happy approach to dealing with his enemies.

Before long, Julie is sneaking out of the house to meet up with her new paramour, much to the distress of her cousin and guardian Nora (Sakina Deer), who is desperately trying to keep the girl’s father from finding out. And you know the young lovers are only inching closer to hot water.

Still, they persist. Theirs is no ordinary love story. Even an obeahman is brought into the mix for his sage advice and to seal their union. Campbell gives another flat-out funny portrayal as the mysterious Baba, whose specialties include “sending wifey to foreign and matey to hell.”

Rounding out the main cast are stage veterans Courtney Wilson (as Romi’s sidekick, Fatta) and Kevoy Burton as Papa Don’s right-hand man Tyrone, and later as the interesting Thomas Toad, who Julie’s father really wants her to marry. She’d rather drink rat poison.

We all know how Shakespeare’s popular play ends, but Nairne and Brown and the competent cast have turned that narrative on its head, with a spoof laden with the kind of laugh-out-loud comedy that Jambiz regulars expect. Our only quibble: the musical element, particularly the original songs, are not spread evenly throughout the show, creating a slight imbalance. 

Even so, theatregoers in the market for a bellyful of laughs, solid entertainment, can’t go wrong with Romi & Julie. And for this particular show at Centrestage, the balcony chairs are probably the best seats in the house. Tyrone’s Verdict: B+

Thursday, 21 February 2019

WORK & PLAY: What Men Want tackles gender and workplace politics with hilarious results

TEAMING UP: Henson (as Ali) and Brener (as Brandon) plot their next move.

WHAT makes Taraji P. Henson such a great actress? The conviction she brings to every role she takes on and the thrilling versatility she brings to her career. Here is an actress who moves with relative ease between television (the smash hit Empire) and the big screen (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Baby Boy, Acrimony). She can give you a solid dramatic turn, then the next time you see her, she’s flipping the script and revealing yet another dimension to her gifts, as a comedienne.

She is riotously funny in What Men Want, this season’s noteworthy chick flick that offers a full-bodied exploration of trust and relationships, ego and competition, and the age-old gender wars. 

Henson plays Ali Davis, a highly driven go-getter who comes across to most men in her circle as a ball-buster. She works hard and she plays hard, and is the sole female sports agent at Summit Worldwide Management, due for a promotion any day now to finally make partner. When she gets overlooked again, she hits the roof and accuses her boss, Nick (Brian Bosworth) of sexism. What does she have to do to earn the respect of the company’s boys’ club? 

When one of her three close girlfriends introduces her to an eccentric reader woman named Sister (Erykah Badu, hilarious), who offers her some tea, Ali later discovers that she can now hear what the men around her are thinking! Blessing or curse? “It’s driving me nuts,” he complains to Sister, who shows her how to use her newfound gift to finally win what she’s always wanted. 
With the help of her adorable personal assistant Brandon (Josh Brener), whom she dotes on and berates in equal measure, Ali hatches a plan to sign Jamal Barry (Shane Paul McGhie), the most wanted young talent heading into the NBA. Throw into the mix a blossoming romance with a sexy bartender and single dad (Aldis Hodge as Will), and Ali’s cup is full to overflowing. 

In addition to Hodge, the supporting cast includes Tracey Morgan as Jamal’s dad, Joe, and Richard Roundtree as Ali’s boxing-trainer dad, Skip – with cameo appearances by Lisa Leslie, Shaq and Twilight hunk Kellan Lutz. 

Buoyed by some smart directorial choices by Adam Shankman, working with a script by Tina Gordon, what essentially plays out in What Men Want is a sequence of events that amuse you and provoke serious thought, chiefly concerning power, career versus personal-life choices, and women trying to make it in a male-dominated environment. Tyrone’s Verdict: B++

ON THE SCENE: Power couples Ziggy and Orly, Shaggy and Rebecca; Nadine Sutherland Richie Spice rock ‘Catch a Fire’; Shelly-Ann Weeks supports Cham in concert…

DATE NIGHT: Feb. 9, United States. The guest list for the pre-Grammy Awards party, hosted by the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles, included, of course, Orville ‘Shaggy’ Burrell and his lovely wife, Rebecca Packer, who were picture-perfect as they made their entrance. On awards night, Shaggy took home his second career Grammy trophy for 44/876, his collaborative album with Sting. (Photo: Getty Images)

AMONG THE STARS: Feb. 10, United States. Fellow Best Reggae Album nominee Ziggy Marley (Rebellion Rises), no stranger to big awards shows, also brought his favourite plus-one, wife Orly, to a star-studded pre-show event, honoring the legendary Willie Nelson. (Photo: Getty Images)

ROOTS ROCKIN’ REGGAE: Feb. 6, St. Andrew The performance lineup at ‘Catch a Fire,’ Bob Marley’s 74th birthday celebrations at 56 Hope Road, featured several emerging talents and such veteran acts as Nadine Sutherland and Richie Spice, who showed the youngsters how it’s done. (Photo: Skkan Media)

#TEAMCHAM: Feb. 2, Kingston. Author and businesswoman Shelly-Ann Weeks was among a sea of patrons (die-hard fans included who flocked to Mas Camp, Stadium North, for Footloose: Baby Cham Live!, a rare full-length performance by the dancehall stalwart. (Photo: Skkan Media)

GROUP DYNAMICS: Feb. 2, Kingston. Baby Cham’s headlining performance at Footloose also got a solid show of support from industry heavyweights Queen Ifrica, Dennis Howard and Tony Rebel and the maverick himself Oral Tracey(Photo: Skkan Media)

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

ROAD WARRIORS: Thomas, Mondon emerge winners of Sagicor/Sigma Run; $52.5M raised for charities

GREAT DAY: Sagicor's Mark Chisholm and Chorvelle Johnson, representatives of this year's beneficiaries, and ambassadors Yohan Blake and Stacey McKenzie show off the symbolic cheque.

HENRY Thomas did it again. Two weeks after besting a field of over 1200 runners to win the Heart Foundation/Crystal Spring ‘Run for Your Heart’ 5K, the superfit 24-year-old athlete gave a repeat of his stamina-rich performance to win the 2019 Sagicor/Sigma Corporate Run in New Kingston on Sunday morning.

Thomas, a member of the UCT Steppers, won in a time of 17 minutes and 39 seconds. Perennial contender Kemar Leslie (Rainforest Seafoods) was second, while 22-year-old JC old boy Kosiani Dunkley (Tax Administration of Jamaica) placed third. On the women’s side, French-Jamaican runner Elizabeth Mondon was fastest, finishing in 21 minutes and 28 seconds. Second-place was secured by Kelly-Ann Beckford while Jozanne Harris claimed third.

On a brilliant morning at the Emancipation Park, as hundreds of athletes flocked to the various booths for refreshments, Sagicor announced that they had surpassed their 2019 fundraising target, raking in an impressive $52.5 million to benefit their chosen charities: the May Pen Hospital’s Neo-Natal Unit, the Lupus Foundation and the Diabetes Association of Jamaica. 

Meanwhile, awards were also presented to the top participants in the Walk category. On the Men’s side, Duell Allen of Shizzle Fit took top honours, ahead of Gladstone Miller (2nd) and Lenworth Hunter (3rd). Best among the women were: Anna-Kay Swaby (1st), Olivia McKoy (2nd) and Paula Sinclair (3rd). 

The event also drew appearances by sprint superstar Yohan Blake and former top model Stacey McKenzie, this year’s Sagicor ambassadors. Stirring performances came from gospel ministers Rondell Positive and Rhoda Isabella. Jennifer ‘Jenny Jenny’ Small was in her usual ‘Energizer Bunny’ element as the day’s emcee.

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

CULTURE VULTURE: VIP/Grandstand tickets for Buju concert sold out + Fifty Shades author back for more + Proceeds from Cargo premiere to benefit Haiti

BOOKS: Calling all Fifty Shades loyalists! Are your ready for more from author E.L. James? Her publisher, Vintage Books, has announced that James has a new book coming out on April 16. It’s called The Mister and, true to James’ oeuvre, it’s “an erotic love story” (set in London), but Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele do not appear in this one. Instead, you are introduced to Maxim (an aristocratic young Englishman) and Alessia (a girl with a past). “It’s a Cinderella story for the 21st century,” says James, whose Fifty Shades books has sold more than 100 million copies. “I hope my readers will be swept away by their thrilling and sensual tale.”

FILM: Funds from the recent Caribbean premiere of the buzzworthy film Cargo (about human trafficking and Haitian immigrants in the Bahamas fleeing to Miami) will be donated to Hollywood Unites for Haiti, a non-profit founded by Jimmy Jean-Louis, one of the film’s stars, to benefit underprivileged youth in the poverty-stricken island territory. According to Jean-Louis, it is imperative that the Caribbean produces more of these projects shining the spotlight on critical social issues affecting our people. “I just feel like the film industry really needs to be worked on,” he says. “I feel like the Caribbean has so much potential. If we come together we can achieve great things. We won’t have to wait to get movies from America; they could get movies from us, too.”

MUSIC: They’re going fast! VIP and grandstand tickets for Buju Banton’s highly anticipated National Stadium concert on March 16 are already sold out. Still available are General tickets ($12, 500) and Bleachers tickets ($4000). The upcoming concert will mark the kick-off for The Long Walk to Freedom Tour, being presented by Gargamel Music, Supreme Ventures and Boom Energy Drink. Gates open 4pm. Showtime 8pm. Tickets are on sale at select Digicel stores and via Information hotline: 876-247-BUJU or 876-LUV-BUJU.

TALKING FASHION: Gabrielle Clarke brings quality and ‘unusual’ Afro style to Quaint by GSC

COLOUR POWER: Bold prints, bold patterns. The customers love them,” says Clarke (at top), sporting the Rock-Me-Baby afrokini.

FASHION designer Gabrielle S. Clarke credits much of her success to her grandmother’s influence. “She raised me in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church for a few years, and I’d say it was a really life-changing experience,” she dishes to TALLAWAH

So much so that she got introduced to some Afro-Caribbean traditions and customs that instilled in her a deep appreciation for all things that hail from the Motherland. Fashion included. Clarke quickly fell in love with African fashion and has decided to make a career out of it. Why not? A trip to the Ping’s fabric store, where she was wowed by the gorgeous prints and bold, vivid colours sealed the deal. “The fabrics spoke to me,” she recalls.

By 2015, she was fully immersed, drawing on all her seamstress lessons to create sartorial works of art. Introducing Quaint by GSC, branded as an afrowear line using kente and other eye-catching patterns to create impressive, wearable garments.

Clarke’s growing clientele thinks so too. “The response has been great, a bit overwhelming at times. I’ve had a lot of overseas customers – buyers from France, Belgium, Italy, New York, Florida, who order on the website (,” says the 23-year-old designer, who has now widened her creative output (from clothing – skirts and tops and beachwear) to include purses and bags and other chic accessories.

What’s her aesthetic? “As my slogan says, I love to create unusual pieces. Anything that’s unusually interesting, I’ll go for it. Bold prints, bold patterns. The customers love them,” she explains, standing by her booth at the Bob Marley Museum, on the occasion of Marley’s 74th anniversary birthday celebrations.

After graduating from Alpha Academy, Clarke went on to UWI Mona but only completed two years of study before dropping out due to financial constraints. The setback, she says now, has been a blessing in disguise, affording her that push to start her own business and build her brand.

Looking ahead, the Kingston native is taking Quaint by GSC to the world. “I want to have stores in Ocho Rios and Montego Bay, and hopefully Florida and California,” she says. “I pretty much want to establish the brand so that everybody can have access to the pieces.”

Her advice for other up-and-coming designers is simple: Plan and execute. “Believe in yourself. Love what you do. Have a good plan and put in the work,” she says. “And if you’re really passionate about it, just do it.”

>> Keep up with Clarke on Instagram @quaintafrowear!

THE TIES THAT BIND: Tough love and painful truths make a brutal mix in Maas Mat Comes to Town

UNFINISHED LIVES: Lowe, Brown and HoShing in scenes from the play.

Maas Mat Comes To Town (Basil Dawkins Productions)
Director: E. Wayne McDonald
Cast: Earle Brown, Ruth HoShing and Maylynne Lowe
Venue: Little Little Theatre, Kingston

“YOUR sins catch up with you, that’s why yuh ah suffer so.” Is that the kind of thing a young lady should be saying to her mother? Not in the civilized world, but Deslin (Maylynne Lowe) is beyond frustrated.

Trapped at home with her bothersome, Alzheimer’s-stricken mother, Dotsy (Ruth HoShing), her life has become a living hell. You feel her pain. Dotsy is a handful and plays mean tricks on her daughter, like emptying her full bottle of rum into a flower pot.

Unsurprisingly, they seem headed for a violent clash, as action heats up in Maas Mat Comes to Town, playwright Basil Dawkins’ latest offering, which picks up where last season’s production, Pressure Drop, left off.

Deslin’s husband, Luke (Canute Fagan), is no longer around, leaving her, penniless, to care for her sick mother all by herself. Their time together exposes the massive cracks in their mother-daughter relationship, and sometimes you are left shaking your head as their verbal clashes intensify. 

Thankfully for Deslin, her father-in-law and Luke’s old man, Mat (Earle Brown) is on his way to the house to ease some of the burden. But, interestingly, Maas Mat’s arrival only serves to complicate an already tense situation. Can’t we all just get along?

What Dawkins underscores with this family narrative (engrossing, but it occasionally loses its verve) is that family life can get very messy, and it takes real patience and commitment to overcome the hurdles. For some folks, living with certain relatives feels like a prison sentence, and that’s precisely how Deslin feels. Sad but true.

Lowe’s performance cuts like glass, as she delves into the role, evoking not only Deslin’s frustrations but her deep-seated fears and her vices. Did she make an epic mistake in marrying Luke?

HoShing’s feisty Dotsy is still a hot ball of manic energy, and as Maas Mat, Brown digs deep, mustering up the stamina to keep up.

Coming off a stellar remount of Uptown Bangarang, Dawkins and director E. Wayne McDonald reap solid results with their latest collaboration. Minor flaws aside, Maas Mat Comes to Town is a solid, well-acted play that really gets to you, as it takes a hard and unflinching look at family dynamics, love and hate, and life and death in all their guises. Tyrone’s Verdict: B+

Saturday, 9 February 2019

SOCIETY, SOCIETY: ‘S’ Hotel gets a star-studded grand opening on MoBay’s hip strip

SPECIAL OCCASION: A who's who of government officials and distinguished Jamaicans were in attendance.

THOSE in the know say smart and savvy businessman Christopher Issa initially wanted to rebrand the hotel as Spanish Court Montego Bay but later opted for the more “concise and discrete” and singular name ‘S’. 

We love it. The swanky west-coast property, following a renovation process, got a star-studded reopening on January 27, with a guest list topped by Governor-General Sir Patrick Allen and Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who made the official pronouncement. 

Mayor Montego Bay, Homer Davis; Tourism minister Edmund Bartlett, Lisa Hanna, former prime minister Portia Simpson-Miller  and National Security Minister Dr. Horace Chang were also in attendance. 

The 120-room waterfront hotel did business under the Breezes umbrella before closing its doors in 2009 and being sold in 2011. It has now re-entered the market, welcoming locals and foreigners alike, perched beachside on Montego Bay’s famed ‘Hip Strip’ on Gloucester Avenue.

2018 TALLAWAH MUSIC AWARDS: The Complete List of Winners

* Autumn Leaves  Damian Marley --WINNER
A Better Tomorrow – Jahmiel 
Family – Popcaan 
Glory to God – Wayne Marshall feat. Tessanne Chin and Ryan Mark 
No Guarantee – Protoje feat. Chronixx 

Banks of the Hope – Agent Sasco 
Family – Popcaan 
* Glory to God – Wayne Marshall feat. Tessanne Chin and Ryan Mark --WINNER
No Guarantee – Protoje feat. Chronixx 
Stay So – Busy Signal 

* 44/876 – Shaggy & Sting --WINNER
A Matter of Time – Protoje 
Hope River – Agent Sasco 
Love Sick – Romain Virgo 
Reggae Forever – Etana 

Lila Ike 
Rygin King 
* Sevana --WINNER
ShaundrĂ© Cowan 

* Autumn Leaves – Damian Marley --WINNER
A Better Tomorrow – Jahmiel 
Banks of the Hope – Agent Sasco 
In This Together – Romain Virgo 
Winning Right Now – Agent Sasco 

Bawl Out – Dovey Magnum 
Diamond Body – Mavado feat. Stefflon Don 
* Family - Popcaan --WINNER
One and Move – Govana 
Stay So – Busy Signal 

* Glory to God – Wayne Marshall feat. Tessanne Chin and Ryan Mark --WINNER
I Feel Like Running – Kevin Downswell 
Pray For You – Marion Hall feat. Carlene Davis 
Worship: The Victory Edition – ShaundrĂ© Cowan 
Worshipper’s Heart – Daynea Deacon Jones 

Appleton Signature Night series 
Fun In The Son 
Realignment Concert Tour 
Rebel Salute 
* Reggae Sumfest --WINNER

DJ Frass 
Markus Myrie 
Niko Browne 
* Rvssian --WINNER
Winta James 

Guess Who – Tarrus Riley feat. Mykal Rose 
Hard Drive – Shenseea feat. Konshens and Rvssian 
Kontraband – Kabaka Pyramid feat. Damian Marley 
Mama Prayed – Agent Sasco feat. Glacia Robinson 
* No Guarantee – Protoje feat. Chronixx --WINNER

* Etana --WINNER
Jah 9 
Lila Ike 
Queen Ifrica 

* Agent Sasco --WINNER
Damian Marley 
Romain Virgo 

Dovey Magnum 
* Spice --WINNER
Vanessa Bling 

* Popcaan --WINNER
Rygin King 

Gem Myers 
Jason Worton 
Monty Alexander 
* Nickeishia Barnes --WINNER
Seretse Small 


Thursday, 7 February 2019

WORTHY CAUSE: ‘Run for Your Heart 5K’ attracts its largest turnout

STRONG FINISH: Male 5K winner Henry Thomas (centre) and his runners-up (Kemar Leslie and David Pusey) share a candid shot with event sponsors.

FOR Romario Samuels, brand manager of Crystal Spring, the biggest reward that has come with their debut as title sponsors of the Run for Your Heart 5K is the nearly 50 percent increase in the number of persons participating. 

“We had over 1,200 persons registering and coming out to do the run and the walk, and that’s about a 45 percent increase in the numbers,” he tells TALLAWAH inside New Kingston’s Emancipation Park on Sunday morning, as the day’s activities slipped into high gear.

Now in its third year, the 5K Run/Walk, the brainchild and major fundraiser of the Heart Foundation of Jamaica (HFJ), has always received sponsorship support from the spring water company, but 2019 marks their very first outing as title sponsors. And according to Samuels, the extra effort put into the planning and preparation, coupled with financial investment, has paid off.

“We said we would try to do more with advertising and marketing and social media, and in so doing we managed to garner the interest of more persons,” he reports. It’s a successful partnership with the HFJ that he feels can get even better. “For successive events,” Samuels notes, “we hope it grows.”

In addition to Crystal Spring, this year’s raft of sponsors include (among others) Purity, Foska Oats, Sun City Radio and Mountain Peak, all of whom set up booths inside the park, attracting scores of fitness enthusiasts.

>> The Results Are In: Winners of the 2019 Run for Your Heart 5K events
1. 5K Run – Male: Henry Thomas – UCD Steppers (Runners-up: Kemar Leslie – Rainforest Seafoods and David Pusey – Carimed) 
2. 5K Run – Female: Jozivanne Deer – PUMA (Runners-up: Michelle Riley – PUMA and Jozanne Harris – JamDammers)
3. 2K Run – Male: Odaine Davidson
4. 2K Run – Female: Gabriel Wellington
5. Largest Team: Ministry of Health
6. Youth Award (Under 17): Caleb Dixon and Malia Ruperell
7. Champion Team: Digicel
8. 5K Walk – Male: Duel Allen – Shizzle Fit (Runners-up: Lenworth Hunter – Independent and Oshea Morgan – Shizzle Fit
9. 5K Walk – Female: Annakay Swaby – Shizzle Fit (Runners-up: Paula Sinclair – UCD Steppers and Patricia Grant – NCU FM