'Simply Myrna', simply marvelous
Marcia Rowe, Gleaner Writer
There is no denying that Myrna Hague is not only the consummate performer, but that she also has a passion for singing. On Saturday, at the second staging of 'Simply Myrna', this conclusion was to be reinforced.
The show, on the other hand, was described by Hague as "a work in progress". But what a work in progress it turned out to be!
'Simply Myrna' was also the meeting place of fantastic entertainment, great vocalisation, solid advice and witty anecdotes from Dobby Dobson, the featured artiste.
It was Myrna who got the show going. Her entrance was announced by the unseen. This was done after The Jamaica Big Band delivered the Sonny Bradshaw arrangement of Jamaica's National Anthem. They remained, and under the direction of guest conductor and arranger Ralph Holding Jr, accompanied Myrna in a fantastic display, reinforced by a well-thought-out programme.
The skilled jazz-and-blues vocalist opened her act aptly with the song This Is My Life. She segued into her next selection, asking the question, What Are You Doing with the Rest of Your Life?
Before moving on to If I Rule The World, the demure class act said, "We are in interesting times in the world." And with that, she began a song which sought to provide solutions to some of the world's problems.
The song Heatwave was used to change the course of the evening. Its lengthy introduction provided Myrna with the chance to reshape the mood. Accompanied by two male dancers, she shimmied and shook to the sounds of string, percussion and wind instruments. And after her male dancers exited, Hague danced up one of the Courtleigh Auditorium's aisles, her prey were unsuspecting males. She sang and teased them, to the merriment of their female counterparts and the rest of the house.
But her adventure also resulted in a wardrobe malfunction. Returning to the stage in a change of costume, Hague remembered her late husband, Sonny Bradshaw, with two items. She did so by singing The Music Plays and performing Bradshaw's arrangement of Bob Marley's Waiting In Vain.
She then closed part one with a special request to perform Send In The Clowns. Marjorie Whylie accompanied her on piano.
While the first part of the show is best described, and rightly so, as simply Myrna's segment, guests Dobson and the Cari-Folk singers were just as fantastic in part two.
World-class second acts
It began with the talented and entertaining Cari-Folk singers. Attired in their customary colourful costumes, they commenced their act with Under The Banyan Tree. This was followed by the very vivid Point Little Ting Ting. Their delightful stint came to an end with the Jamaican folk classic Evening Time. For this selection, they were joined by Myrna.
She remained to deliver another solo tribute. The recipient was the late Ed Gallimore. The chosen song was, Everything Must Change. The appropriately chosen song spoke words of comfort: "Nothing goes unchanged ... a wounded heart will heal."
Finally, the Jamaica-born Dobson, who had not performed in the island for some time, was brought on with an introduction from Myrna. This gesture highlighted one of the unique features of the high-calibre show, the absence of an emcee. It worked.
With Dobson's arrival to the stage, the event's memorable humour commenced. Clad in a full black suit, the almost chubby looking musical icon began his act with the familiar classic, Loving Pauper.
After performing the well-liked version, he introduced the remix and then told the story behind the words of the song he wrote when he was only sixteen.
In brief, the words of the song were inspired by an older female neighbour who preferred older established men to him.
Wonderful Sound, another female-inspired song, this time a female teacher, was preceded by another anecdote. The Kingston College old boy also performed Walk Away From Love and Sweet Dreams About You. He was rejoined by Myrna, to render Never, Never.
Once again Myrna remained on stage to deliver the final selection, I Hope You Dance. But before singing the powerful lyrics, she expressed gratitude to her audience. "I am going to leave you with really really good wishes for your life," she said.
Then accompanied by the Cari-Folk singers she sang from her heart. It was felt by the audience who upon completion rose to their feet.