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A moment for musicals - Genre dominates Actor Boy Award nominations

Published:Sunday | March 5, 2017 | 12:00 AMShereita Grizzle
A scene from Fr Ho Lung And Friends' Moses.
The grand finale of ‘Marcus’ the Musical Roots Reggae Rock, inside the Philip Sherlock Centre for the Creative on the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies on Monday, October 17, 2016.

The nominations for this year's Actor Boy Awards (ABA) are out, and musicals have emerged the big theatre news of 2016. The Father Ho Lung and Friends' Moses and Mary Banks' Amazing Grace are the most nominated productions. Moses leads has secured a whopping 10 nods, while Banks' religious production have copped eight nominations.

They will go head to head in several categories, including Costume Design, Lighting Design, Special Effects, Best Choreography and, of course, Best Musical.

Two other musicals, Garvey and Pan have also received multiple nominations.

Last year's awards saw the musical 1865 emerging the big winners. After securing 15 nominations it walked away with nine wins, including Best Production. Having noticed that musicals have been growing from strength to strength on the local theatre scene, Maurice Bryan of the Actor Boy Awards told The Gleaner that musical productions may be the next big thing in Jamaican theatre.

"I think it is on the rise. These productions have a lot of original music, choreography, special effects and so on, so it takes a lot more time than the regular roots play," he said. "I think it has been something people always had in the back of their minds to do, but some of the stuff takes a while to work on. So most of these musicals you're seeing now have been in the making for years. It is definitely growing and it is a welcomed development."




Given the decline in the number of roots plays on the Actor Boy nominations list over the last few year, one may think the quality of productions being put forward is not what it used to be. However, Bryan indicated that the decline has more to do with the number of submissions and not the quality of productions.

"We didn't see that much roots plays last year and the roots plays have been on the decline over the years," he said. "I wouldn't say roots plays didn't get their fair share because the musicals were out. Any play that is included on the nominations list has to send in a producer's form giving the ABA committee permission to judge that production. Without that form we cannot do anything. We ask for it to be sent before the show opens, and if we don't get it, we'll ask again while the show is running. But once the show closes, the judges cannot do anything about it."