Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 12th 2015 Contents B38
While the company may be new, Smith
and his team of experienced theatre profes-
sionals are no strangers to the local scene.
Through his previous work as an executive
producer, Smith has been behind some of the
largest musical productions in T&T over the
past three years including The Sound of Music
(2012), The King and I (2013), Encore: Live
From Broadway (2013) and Jesus Christ Super-
Mahalia: A Gospel Musical will be performed
at the Little Carib Theatre from May 7--9, at
"If I were to be candid, Trinidad does not
cater for the arts," Smith said. "With the closure
of Napa it leaves only Queen's Hall, so it limits
you to what kind of production you can do to
match the size of the venue.
"You cannot take a big musical and take it
to the Little Carib or to Central Bank. So with
that constraint, with limited venues available
and with Queen's Hall congested, back-to-
back and fully booked, we had to find some-
thing that could fit into Little Carib and when
I looked around there were several alternatives,
but I really liked Mahalia."
A major theme in Mahalia: A Gospel Musical
is the inspirational story of the life of Mahalia
Jackson as it intertwined with Dr Martin Luther
King Jr's during one of the more powerful
moments of US civil rights history.
With a mission of non-violence and a cause
grounded in the tenants of equality and justice,
Dr King led an historical march for the voting
rights of African-Americans. Arm in arm,
activists walked from Selma crossing the now
infamous Edmund Pettus Bridge to Mont-
gomery. This was one of the defining moments
of the US civil rights movement.
"This year is the 50th anniversary of the
crossing of the bridge in Selma and I thought
that the whole Mahalia story was very pertinent
to Trinidad today especially when there is so
much violence," Smith said. "I think it's impor-
tant for people to see a movement of non-
violence actually working.
"I keep feeling like one of these days we
might just explode and that is not going to be
the way. So, if we could find a device by which
we could tell people, look, non-violence could
work even in your daily life, we decided the
story of Mahalia would work for that."
The cast includes Conrad Paris in the role
of Dr Martin Luther King Jr, Mandisa Grander-
son as young Mahalia, and LLettesha Sylvester
as adult Mahalia Jackson.
Jennifer Ryan will play Aunt Duke, Justin
Zephyrine will play Cousin Fred and Kearn
Samuel will play multiple roles including Pro-
fessor Dorsey and organist James Herbert Fran-
cis.Abeo Jackson and Paula Hamilton will share
the role of piano accompanist Mildred Falls.
The technical team includes director Ray-
mond Choo Kong, Bente Lashley for lighting
design, Treldon Thompson for sound, Randal
Halfhide for set design and Ronald Guy James
for costume design.
Stage manager will be Gregory Singh, with
choreography by Abeo Jackson and official
photography by Eustace Dyer. Production sup-
port will be provided by Catherine Emmanuel,
Trevon Jugmohan and production manager
Christopher Smith, who will also double as
graphic designer for all official Mahalia artwork.
Lorraine Granderson will lead as musical
director/ conductor. John Thomas as music
director will work with the chorus and will be
responsible for vocal training, and adding choral
arrangements not included in the original play.
Some of Smith's favourite songs from the
musical include My God is Real, Take my Hand
Precious Lord and Deep River.
"I can assure you, when Take My Hand Pre-
cious Lord comes on, there is going to be a
lot of crying. We're also going completely orig-
inal this year with instruments authentic to
the time period. So the instrumentation is lim-
ited to organ and piano, except for in the grand
finale...we have something extremely special
planned for that!"
The Metamorphosis Dance Co
celebrates its 20th anniversary with
a special production this week, from
April 16--19, at Queen s Hall. Run-
ning the rehearsals this season is
Bridgette Wilson, a member of the
company for 15 years and rehearsal
director for the past six.
Wilson choreographed the com-
pany's 19th season with Perception
and this year she has choreographed
a high-energy trio as well as the
finale, which incorporates both past
and present members of Metamor-
phosis Dance Co.
Born and raised in T&T, she trained
and danced at the Caribbean School
of Dancing and was invited to join
Metamorphosis in 2000.
"I am not one for speaking about
my emotions," a Metamorphosis press
release quotes Wilson as saying. "This
is why I danced as a child and this
is why, as an adult, I choreograph.
"Metamorphosis Dance Co has
been my outlet to express myself
throughout my greatest joys as well
as my deepest sorrows. The company
has been my mother when I seek
comfort, my mentor when I seek
advice, my companion when I am
lonely, my inspiration when I lack
vision and my best friend throughout
every ounce of laughter we share with
In 2002 and 2004, as a member
of Metamorphosis, Wilson toured the
UK, dancing at Trafalgar Square in
London and theatres located in
Tewksbury, Liverpool, Manchester
and Gloucester. Mainly trained in
ballet and modern dance, Wilson has
earned her associate certificate in
modern theatre from the Imperial
Society of Teachers of Dancing and
has also been successful in a number
of ballet exams taken by the Royal
Academy of Dancing.
In 2005, she packed her bags for
Canada to study at York University,
graduating in 2009 with a BFA with
honours. In Canada, she was a senior
member of the York Dance Ensemble,
the professional performing dance
company at York University made up
of the dance programme's most
promising third and fourth year
dancers. She officially gave up her
membership with the company in
February 2009, when the opportunity
to undergo her own independent
study through her own choreographic
experiments came about, but she still
maintains contact with the Canadian
company for future collaborations.
Wilson is the first recipient of the
COCO Dance Festival Choreogra-
pher's Award in 2012. Her interest in
choreography grew while at York Uni-
versity and she has produced new
works every year since 2008. Outside
of her work with Metamorphosis she
teaches ballet, jazz and tap at both
branches of the Caribbean School of
Dancing and is head of visual and
performing arts at the Maria Regina
She has been accepted into a Bach-
elor of Arts programme at the Royal
Academy of Dancing (Rad) and will
begin the distance learning pro-
gramme in September 2015, in order
to obtain registered teacher status
with the Rad.
"Working with the company has
challenged me mentally, physically,
creatively and emotionally to find
myself and be true to that person not
just for my sake, but for the sake of
the many young and intelligent minds
that make their way into our family.
Metamorphosis is my world away
from the world and even when things
aren't perfect within it, it is still the
place I will always choose to be."
Le Vitrail, a dance choreographed by Bridgette Wilson, Metamorphosis Dance Co's rehearsal director.
PHOTO COURTESY MARK LYNDERSAY/ METAMORPHOSIS DANCE CO
Speaking through dance
Tickets are priced at $100 (April
16 Student show), $200 (April
17 and 19) and $400 (April 18
fund-raiser). Tickets are
available from the Caribbean
School of Dancing, Monday-
Friday from 10 am- 6 pm, and at
the Queen's Hall Box Office
from noon daily.
Mahalia musical comes to T&T
The cast of the upcoming production of Mahalia: A Gospel Musical. IMAGE COURTESY JCS ENTERTAINMENT
Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt April 12, 2015
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