Sat | Oct 21, 2017

Excellent Nesta's Rock opens

Published:Monday | January 12, 2015 | 12:00 AMShereita Grizzle
Winston Sill D'Burnz as Ness (left) with Soraya Dabdoub as Nella in Nesta's Rock, which opened at the Philip Sherlock Centre for the Creative Arts, UWI, Mona, last weekend.
Winston Sill Ashley Thurlow (left),Justine Rookwood (centre) and Jhenelle Lewis as the Three Little Birds in Nesta's Rock.
Winston Sill Andrew Bailey as Blackheart Man.
Winston Sill Nella (left), Higg's (centre) and Ness in an intense moment.
Winston Sill Realla Benguche as Sparky (left) with Jhenelle Lewis (second right, standing) and Richard Kilburn as Higgs
Winston Sill Quickore Bennett as Big K (left), Courtney Malcolm as Tiger (centre) and Asha Williams as Porkchop.
Winston Sill Quickore Bennett (front) as Big K.
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Engaging, captivating, entertaining.

Those were some of the words patrons used to describe Nesta's Rock after seeing the musical's debut performance on Friday night. Put on by the Jamaica Musical Theatre Company (JMTC), the production opened at the Philip Sherlock Centre for the Creative Arts, University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, to a sold-out audience.

Inspired by the childhood of reggae legend Robert Nesta Marley, the musical tells the tale of a young man named Ness growing up in Kingston. Ness has a tough childhood as he is constantly teased about his 'unrealistic' dreams and aspirations by friends.

Disappointed, lonely, and disheartened, Ness boards a bus 'home'. However the young man soon discovers he is on a magical bus, one that takes him to Nine Mile, St Ann. There, he encounters three little birds and his best friend, Nella, who agree to help him find his way back to Kingston.

The story continues with Ness being taken to Kingston Town, where everyone - except him - seems to know his importance. They are all looking to Ness to save the town from the evil, infamous Big K, but Ness struggles with the task, much like he struggles with finding himself.

Ness soon discovers that helping the villagers could be the answer to all his questions about self-identity.

If you love a good musical, then Nesta's Rock is highly recommended. It is entertainment for the whole family as the storyline appeals to both the young and young at heart.

Judging by the quality of the production, one may find it hard to fathom that the cast had been in rehearsals only since auditions closed in September last year. Executive and artistic director Daniele Steibel and her team managed to pull off a quality production in a little under four months.

production on point

From stage lighting to costumes to musical accompaniment, all the production's elements were on point.

Marley's catalogue is huge, so it might have taken the creative crew some time to select the appropriate songs. Again, however, they did a good job. In keeping with the storyline, popular songs such as Redemption Song, Could You Be Loved and Trench Town Rock were masterfully interwoven into Nesta's Rock, adding strength to the message of various scenes.

In December when The Gleaner spoke to lead actor up-and-coming artiste D'Burnz, whose real name is Melbourne Douglas, he said he was happy to have been given the part. However, D'Burnz made it clear he was not an actor and was learning as he went along.

After seeing the opening performance, it is safe to say that D'Burnz may have underestimated his abilities. He, along with lead actress Nella (played by Soraya Dabdoub), put on such strong performances audience members may have had a hard time believing they aren't professionals.

The musical will run on weekends until February 22, with a special performance on February 6 to commemorate Bob Marley's 70th birthday.