Mel Cooke, Freelance Writer
Oliver Samuels (left) and Glen 'Titus' Campbell in 'River Bottom'. - Nathaniel Stewart/Freelance Photographer
Oliver Samuels should be laughing all the way to the podium on Tuesday, March 25, when he will be honoured at the 2007 Actor Boy Awards.
The 17th staging of the annual awards, put on by the Jamaican chapter of the International Theatre Institute (ITI), will be staged in three parts - cocktails, awards and after party - at The Pantry, Dumfries Road, New Kingston.
In a press release, chairperson of the Actor Boy Awards committee, L. Nicole Brown, said "Oliver is one of the greatest comedic actors coming out of Jamaica. He has put acting and Jamaica on the map and the award is very well-deserved at this juncture."
Samuels, who is currently appearing in River Bottom, has been in several stagings of the National Pantomime, starred the television series Oliver at large and been on the big screen in The Mighty Quinn and Almost Heaven, among numerous other achievements.
While Samuels is sure of his trip to centre stage, nominees in the 20 categories at the upcoming Actor Boy Awards will have to wait until awards night to know if they will hit the spotlight.
Purpose of award
The nominees were announced, though, at Monday night's launch of the awards, held at the Trafalgar Road, New Kingston, offices of Jamaica Trade and Invest (JTI).
Ms Brown, who chairs the planning committee for the Actor Boy Awards, said that it served two purposes, to applaud the very best of Jamaican theatre and provide an avenue through which theatre practitioners can be recognised by their peers.
There was laughter when director of entertainment and culture in the Ministry of Information, Culture, Youth and Sports, Sydney Bartley, called the awards "one of maybe the most slandered areas of entertainment", with controversy invariably arising about the outcome. However, Bartley said, ultimately everyone who receives an Actor Boy Award assigns it to a place of prominence and even those who did not cross that final hurdle refer to themselves as 'nominees'.
JTI president Robert Gregory said that the Actor Boy Awards indicate that Jamaica's creative industries are world class, while at the same time reminding us that we are nowhere near maximising their potential. And Billy Heaven, CEO of major sponsors the CHASE Fund, pointed out that that 'world class' status was key to the organisation's support, which leaps by 40 per cent to $700,000 this year.
"We are encouraged by the fact that it is under the auspices of the International Theatre Institute (ITI), so it is benchmarked to some international standard," Heaven said.
Music will have a strong presence at the 2007 Actor Boy Awards, as Cherine Anderson, Pluto Shervington, TOK, Andrew Lawrence, Tarrus Riley and Duane Stephenson will perform, Seretse Small being the musical director. The event will be hosted by Christopher McFarlane and Karen Harriott.
Monday's launch was hosted by Kerie Ann Lewis who, along with Andrew Lawrence, read the list of nominees for the Actor Boy Awards 2007. The Nomadz poetry group and Sharee McDonald-Russell performed.