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Welcome Laughs At The Hibiscus Hotel

By ALESHA CADET

Tribune Features Reporter

acadet@tribunemedia.net

CAST and crew members of a new comedy entitled Hibiscus Hotel are well on their way to performing the play’s launch on the poolside stage at Jacaranda House next month. The gala opening night and initial performance will take place on Friday May 2 and performances will continue to Saturday May 10.

Hosted by the Yellowtail Theatre Company, Hibiscus Hotel is an original comedy, written and directed by Robin Belfield. The action takes place in a family-operated hotel, situated on a fictional Family Island. At its core are Eli and Cora, played by Craig Pinder and Claudette “Cookie” Allens, who operate what was once the most glamorous hotel in the Bahamas.

Here they lived happily for many years with their daughter Mia, played by Dana Ferguson. They are plagued with the usual trials and tribulations of island living and challenged by the arrival of some unexpected guests.

With Eli’s head stuck in the “good ol’ days” playgoers will find out if he can hold his business, family and himself together in the modern Bahamas. This exciting and hilarious new play is a story of love, family and the power of dreams.

In an interview with Tribune Entertainment, Kim Aranha, the producer, said the entire show is an all-Bahamian endeavour. Following the success of bringing Shakespeare’s Othello to the Bahamas in 2012, Ms Aranha said they decided to host a light comedy this time.

“Othello went so well and we worked so well together that we decided that we wanted to do something else. We thought that perhaps after having something heavy and dramatic, we wanted to do a light comedy because we thought that the Bahamian audience would enjoy something original. The idea of Hibiscus Hotel was actually born sitting having a Sands Light at the Cricket Club restaurant just bouncing around ideas. Robin went and wrote it and we have come up with a final script that everybody enjoys and the casting has been done.” Rehearsals for began yesterday.

After the ideas and castings were done, Ms Aranha said they wanted a novel venue to host the event as opposed to a traditional theatre, and this is where the idea of the Jacaranda House came about.

“We thought Jacaranda House would be a really cool place to hold the play,” she said. “The stage will be the bridge between the two swimming pools. The people will sit up and around looking down. The programme is already being designed, there are different categories of sponsorship that people can buy. During the gala night, there will be a dessert buffet and a champagne bar that will be $70.”

“Saturday is the normal night and then Sunday we are doing a night of jazz and theatre. We are mixing the play with Jazz at Jacaranda. There will be Jazz at Jacaranda first and dinner will be available that night as well for an extra fee. The play will go on from 8 to 9.30pm.”

She said the whole experience of Hibiscus Hotel so far has been positive and exciting. “I think that the Bahamas lacks theatre and, for some reason, Bahamians don’t think about going to the theatre, they think about going to the movies and concerts. The concept of going to the theatre is still a little alien to the average person and this is a play that I think can reach a lot of people.”

Ms Aranha said Hibiscus Hotel is a different form of entertainment for all ages and a form of entertainment that people do not see very often in the Bahamas. She encouraged Bahamians to get more involved in patronising the spoken word shows.

For Ms Aranha, it has been wonderful working with the talented Bahamians in Hibiscus Hotel and she is very positive in what the next month is going to bring.

“I’m in negotiation right now with The Globe Theatre in London and we are hoping to bring in Hamlet

during their round the world tour in August, and that we would have at the Dundas. I think we will be able to do it and that is going to be a wonderful opportunity for Bahamians. I think there are so many opportunities for Bahamians to have these things if we just reach out. Other countries can’t wait to come and visit us. We have a lot to offer them; the weather, atmosphere and beauty and they want to share their talents with us. I think we need to keep that door open and keep exchanging,” said Ms Aranha.

Her goal for the Yellowtail Theatre Company is to take Hibiscus Hotel and perform it in England and other countries to show people what Bahamians can do.

“We focus on the negative a lot and it is kind of hard not to when every day you pick up the paper and somebody else has been murdered, shot or stabbed’” she said. “There are a lot good people out there and so I think we need to find avenues to showcase them. Though we mustn’t forget the bad things I think we need to emphasise and encourage young people. Give kids a chance to express themselves other than being in gangs.”

The Yellowtail Theatre Company will be performing

Hibiscus Hotel at Jacaranda House from Friday May 2 to Saturday May 10.

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