Marcia Rowe, Gleaner Writer
The opening night of most productions come with hiccups, often in the technical areas. Those glitches aside, the Aston Cooke-penned, Michael Holgate-directed, Jonkanoo Jamboree, had a great opening on Friday.
The Philip Sherlock Centre for the Creative Arts located at the University of the West Indies, Mona, was the venue used to showcase a talented cast comprising the University Players. At the helm was the experience of Fabian Thomas and Nadean Rawlins who were well supported by the less experienced thespians.
Through songs, dance and dialogue, three subplots merged to reveal a story about the people of Jonkanoo Beach Village who are being threatened, not only with eviction from a resident of Quadrille Village, but also the possibility of losing Jonkanoo to dancehall. A love story concludes the subplots.
By entering an annual dance competition, not only were they able to provide back taxes owed by Mrs Terrelong (Rawlins) on whose land they were squatting, they were also able to fuse Jonkanoo with dancehall, making it more popular to the young generation they would have lost.
For the most part, Holgate moved his actors and dancers well, however, it is in his role as choreographer where he shone the brightest.
Energetic dance moves that explored various levels and eye-pleasing formations were justly executed.
Mother Nungu, a ghost, who is restive about the planned evictions of the residents of Jonkanoo Beach Village, appeared on three occasions.
Her appearance comes through the characters, Precious (Julene Robinson) and her son Trevor (Denar Royal).
Robinson and Royal demonstrated fantastic concentration as they, merged voicing the words of the ghost and those of their characters.
As the president of the citizens' association, a youthful-looking Precious is at the heart of everything that concerns her community. The significance of her character's role in the story was not lost on Robinson who performed creditably throughout.
That was also the case for Rawlins and Thomas. Thomas, abandoning his director's hat for the character Clappers, a police officer, was humorous.
Rawlins, on the other hand, deviated from her customarily loud and raunchy roles to tackle the very polished Mrs. Terrelong, who has an English accent.
Brian Johnson, who plays the wealthy Mr Buckingworth, made the character dislikeable with some fine acting and powerful singing.
Shawna Kae Burns, Buckingworth's wife was commendable in her role. Unfortunately, while Buckingworth's wife dressed the part of a wealthy woman, the same could not be said of her husband, who only had two wardrobe changes throughout the production
With editing that tightens the plot and more believable props, Jonkanoo Jamboree becomes a play worth seeing.