Ready for Boxing Day

Ready for Boxing Day

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

The cast of the national Pantomime Princess Boonoonoonoos showcase a scene at Monday’s sneak preview and launch. (PHOTO: KARL MCLARTY)

REHEARSALS for the 2014-2015 National Pantomime, Princess Boonoonoonoos are currently in high gear ahead of the traditional Boxing Day opening.

The pantomime company gave a select audience a sneak peek at the musical which has been taking to local stages since 1941.

As is customary the production is set in a rural village and draws on some of the happenings in contemporary Jamaica to arrive at its plot.

Noted playwright Barbara Gloudon again heads the crew charged with coming up with the script. She has written more pantomimes than she can remember and notes that it does not become easier with the years.

“Writing for theatre in the way that we do our pantomime is hard stuff,” said Gloudon. ” With the size of the cast you have to keep track of all the characters paying attention that nobody gets lost. Plus, it’s musical theatre so you have to make sure all the elements balance — script, music, set, costume. We don’t have the luxury of being able to try out a production before we mount, so we have to get everything right.”

Gloudon noted that she is grateful to the late theatre greats Ranny Williams (Maas Ran) and Louise Bennett (Miss Lou) for showing her the ropes in the early days and their generosity with their knowledge.

“I have to big up Ranny and Louise. A lot of what I have learned about the technical side of theatre I learned from them, especially Ranny. He always told me not to be afraid to tear up my script and start again, if not you find yourself wandering down a road that you can’t get out of,” she noted.

Gloudon added that this year it is a younger cast which has been charged with bringing this theatre tradition to life.

The youthful nature of the players is reflected in the company’s outlook for this year’s production.

According to director Bobby Clarke, “There will be a contemporary sound and feel to this year’s pantomime. We are working to deliver all these elements and high visibility on Boxing Day and throughout the run of the show which ends in May.”

Princess Boonoonoonoos also draws on the talents of a strong technical team. Movement, one of the stronger elements of a national pantomime, is in the hands of dance tutor and member of the National Dance Theatre Company Patrick Earle. The design team comprises set designer Michael Lorde; costumes by Anya Gloudon-Nelson; lighting by Michael McDonald, and sound by Donovan Campbell.

— Richard Johnson