By Mahaica DeVille
News Americas, BROOKLYN, NY, Thurs. June 11, 2015: In an outdoor Garden Theatre nestled in the heart of Crown Heights Brooklyn, Caribbean Theatre has come alive. In this month of June designated as music and Caribbean Heritage month, these two elements are beautifully synchronized with the Sapodilla Sisters Production of De Roaring 70’s – A Calypso Musical.
De Roaring 70’s, is a dynamic Caribbean play written by Zeno Obi Constance which uses the music of the time to chronicle the drama of the tumultuous yet vibrant era of the Black Power Movement which spread through the Caribbean region and communities of color in North America during the 70’s. In its dramatic sequences, the play follows Ma Jacob’s (Marilyn “Lady Venus Jeminez ) attempt to keep her middle-class family intact after “black power” folds her son Gerard (Roland Millwood) into a band of accidental rebels with a biting hunger to change the world. De Roaring 70s examines how Granger (Andrew Clarke) the leader of the Black Power Revolution impacts the lives of ordinary citizens.
1970 and the Black Power Movement in Zeno Constance’s native Trinidad & Tobago was a time of revolt, activism, identity and self-determination. It was also a time of artistry, self-expression, creativity and vibrant music. All these elements are reflected in the music of the calypsonians – the veritable mouthpiece of the people — who recorded the history of this period with classic compositions which defined this era as the “Golden years of Calypso.” It is this rich creativity which comes alive in De Roaring 70’s — the musical as the play tells the story of how society attempted to come to terms with the new awareness of Black dignity and Black economic rights by using the lyrics of some calypso’s greatest composers like Kitchener, Sparrow, Maestro, Duke, Black Stalin, Brother Valentino and Chalkdust. By closing curtain, the audience has not just been entertained with some 30 calypso classics, but has a ring side seat to a significant historical era.
The Producers of the event are Nandi Keyi and Glenda Cadogan, who after years of individually producing unique cultural pieces in Brooklyn, finally teamed together as Sapodilla Sisters and last year staged a successful run of Jean & Dinah which played to a sold-out audience.
“I first saw De Roaring 70’s in 1994 and was struck by its timeliness and universality,” says Keyi, co-producer and author of the True Nanny Diaries. “Twenty years later it is even more relevant particularly in light of heightened activism worldwide. “De Roaring 70s is a special play because it an extremely conscious and enlightened piece of work, yet so entertaining.”
“The music of the show is so infectious that, at points I have had to be reminded that it is a rehearsal and not a party because I was caught singing along with the chorus,” says co-producer Glenda Cadogan, journalist and media consultant. “The music is a natural sing along and I am sure the audience will enjoy doing just that especially with some of the classics like Portrait of Trinidad and Black is Beautiful.”
The 14-member cast of actors is expertly directed by guest directors Louis McWilliams, Professor and Coordinator of the Theatre Arts Program at the Department of Creative and Festival Arts at the University of the West Indies, Trinidad & Tobago and Marva Newton, guitarist extraordinaire and veteran musical director. The cast includes: Kaisoman (Lani K); Tingerlay (Iyaba Mandingo); Bagos (Andrew Howard Jones); Cuthbert (Corey Quammie); Josephine (Shirma Cadogan); Tallboy (Cameron Bhola) and Christine Nedd, Veleda Spellman and Tiffany Renee in the chorus. The play also features a live orchestra.
De Roaring 70’s opens on June 19 at 8:00p.m. and will run for six performances over two weekends — June 19, 20, 21 and June 26, 27 and 28. Show times on Sundays are at 5:00 p.m. The venue, The Outdoor Garden Park Theatre – is located at 1141 Park Pl between Albany and Kingston Avenues. Tickets are only available by advance purchase. For more information call 347-636-0079.