By ALESHA CADET
Tribune Features Reporter
AUDITIONS for the 2015 “Island Boy – The Musical” stage production officially kicked off at the Dundas Centre for the Performing Arts last week.
The next audition and workshop is set to take place between 6pm and 9 pm at the Schoolroom Hall of St Mary The Virgin Anglican Church, Virginia Street on November 5.
The stage production is based on the novel “Island Boy” by Eric Minns. It relates the story of a young Bahamian man in the 1960s and ‘70s who leaves home to take up residence in Canada. Because of the imminent death of his mother, however, he is forced to return home for a visit.
It turns out to be a trip of self-discovery for the protagonist, John, who comes to the realisation that the home of his birth and youth has changed and that he can now face past demons, and to top it all off, he meets and falls in love with a girl, a “Fox Hill Gal”, who willingly assists him in facing those challenges.
Owen Bethel, the musical director of “Island Boy”, said the original screenplay calls for approximately 16 cast members. However, through the workshop process in November this number will likely be reduced as some characters make only a cameo appearance and therefore may be merged into other characters.
He said the recent audition was the first of a two-part process, involving call-backs and using the opportunity to properly identify the key and leading characters.
“We felt that the persons who came to the audition certainly gave us, the production team, great optimism for filling the lead and supporting characters. This process will be assisted by a second phase of auditions scheduled on Wednesday, November 5. We are extremely pleased for the support and cooperation of the rector and congregation of St Mary’s for the utilisation of the Schoolroom Hall as the home for the production ongoing workshop and rehearsals,” said Mr Bethel.
For Eric Minns, Mr Bethel said the production of the musical will certainly mark another accomplishment. He said he expects it to be a landmark production from the perspective of its historical recollection, and a unique stage production as it is completely written by a Bahamian and performed by a totally Bahamian cast.
“It is hoped that the musical will expose the talents and creativity within the Bahamas to a large local and external audience; that it will be both entertaining and informative, particularly through the relating of historical facts of a period and time gone by, and of which many of the younger generation do not have a clue,” said Mr Bethel.
Speaking in regards to the song selections for the musical, Mr Bethel said the theme song, “Island Boy”, captures the essence of the story about John, the protagonist. Other songs featured throughout the production include “Love Flame”, “Goombay Summer”, “Fox Hill Gal”, “If You Can’t Find Your Friends in Nassau”, “I’m Coming Home for Junkanoo”, and “Once Is Not Enough”. However, he said they couldn’t resist the temptation of including excerpts from some of Eric’s other, more recent songs such as “Sunday Christians” and “Pirates”.
Eric Minns has had an extensive career as a musician/entertainer both here in Nassau and Toronto, Canada. He started out as a master of ceremonies at the popular Drumbeat Club on Taylor and Market Streets. He then started writing music and recording his songs with a local rhythm and beat.
The premiere of the musical production is scheduled for February or March 2015 at the Dundas Centre for the Performing Arts.
“Because the storyline is relevant to a number of individuals who have left the Bahamas throughout the islands and experienced the same feelings as the protagonist, John, and therefore can relate to the musical, in addition to being familiar with the popular songs, we will be concurrently working on a travelling show to several of the Family Islands and major cities in the United States of America and Canada where there is a significant (community) of Bahamians,” said Mr Bethel.
He said they are also exploring television and cable presentation rights, and the production of DVDs.