Stage show, drive-in style - Christmas Extravaganza offers park-and-watch option
The drive-in movie may have died in Jamaica when Hurricane Ivan wrecked Palace Amusement's Harbour View open-air cinema. However, GT Taylor, organiser of the annual Christmas Extravaganza large-scale concert in St Elizabeth, is offering a drive-in option this year.
Extravaganza's 17th staging takes place on Christmas Day at the Luana Complex in Black River, St Elizabeth, with Sanchez, Laden, Sizzla, D'Angel, Beenie Man, Tommy Lee Sparta, Masicka, Half Pint, Admiral Tibet, Cocoa Tea, Deep Jahi and Rankin Pumpkin among the performers. It is the event's second consecutive time there and organiser GT Taylor, tells The Gleaner, that the park- and-watch option results from ongoing assessment of the expansive grounds.
"It is the first time we are doing this. You can drive in and park and watch the show from your car," he said.
There is a $500 fee for each vehicle and each occupant must also have a ticket. Taylor said the cars will be parked on a slope, "so you can look down. It is like an amphitheatre." The space has been made available as, he said, "we are pulling the audience a little closer to the stage".
Taylor described a possibility somewhat close to camping.
"If you want to sleep until your favourite artiste comes on stage you can do it in your car," he said. Rebel Salute, which is held at Grizzly's Plantation Cove in Priory, St Ann, offers a camping option.
There has been a confluence of the movie drive-in and performance of Jamaican popular music before. In 2010, DiMario McDowell of Supreme Promotions, which put on the annual Boxing Day concert Sting, which was not held last year and there is so far, no indication of a 2017 staging, told The Gleaner, that he did small signage (like 'no parking') for Inner City Dancehall's 'Saturday Nite Live' at Harbour View Drive-In in 1983. And in a 2015 STAR story, Supreme Promotions' Isaiah Laing recalled the show's drive-in connection, saying "We have been doing this since 1984 at Cinema II." Cinema II was a movie drive-in, located in New Kingston.
There will be parking inside the Luana Sports Complex of a different kind, as Taylor said Knutsford Express buses, which will run from Kingston, Ocho Rios, Negril, Montego Bay and Savanna-la-Mar, will also drive in to the venue. And this is in addition to the free parking close by.
On the event's website, www.gtextravaganza.com, the concert's duration is listed as 8 p.m. on Christmas day to 7 a.m. on Boxing Day. In that time, about 25 performers will be presented, a sharp reduction from the close to 50 at previous stagings. This is in response to audience feedback, Taylor said, the consensus being a preference for quality instead of quantity.
The closing acts have already been finalised, with Masicka coming on stage before closer Tommy Lee. This is also in response to patrons' wishes, with the younger persons willing to wait for those artistes into the daylight hours.