A good love story can tug at the heart strings and check the emotional boxes, but a Trini love story? Papaoye! Yuh hadda brace yuhself for drama and some serious lovey dovey!
Romance and heartbreak unfold in Chandelier Production’s ‘Theatre Night Out III – Une Petite Nuit.‘ Two couples; the hopeless romantic Nate and his fiery girlfriend Sally cross paths with humble Roxy and her dismissive counterpart, Tim, as the characters confronted the truth about themselves and their relationships, through evocative dance, drama, and thoughtful selections of musical theatre numbers.
On Saturday 2nd July, 2022, the audience sat in anticipation and murmurs filled the hall as the curtain finally opened a little over 15 minutes after the carded showtime. The modern and sleek Southern Academy for the Performing Arts was transformed into the scenic Palmiste Park, and as a musical theatre lover, I found myself on the edge of my seat, hoping not only to be treated to familiar pieces of the genre, but also for it to lend to the development of characters and the plot.
After a brief scene that introduced the first couple and their conflict, Sally, played by Gabrielle Alleyne did not disappoint with her rendition of ‘Out Tonight’ from Rent. No stranger to the spotlight, this song was perfectly suited for Alleyne’s powerful voice. Her experience as an accomplished singer and actress definitely shone as she skillfully embodied the materialistic and self centered nature of her character.
In stark contrast, her counterpart Nate, played by Isaiah Alexander, delivered on a feel-good character; though he is desperately naïve and a pushover, I found myself silently rooting for him to realize his worth as the night progressed. It was his performance of ‘Santa Fe’ from Disney’s Newsies that truly showcased his vocals. In this piece, Alexander was able to effectively convey the optimistic and hopeful nature of the song, that aptly encapsulated the character of Nate.
Acting as a parallel is Roxy and Tim, whose relationship have also hit a rough patch. Victoria Griffith portrays Roxy- a quietly supportive, romantic at heart, who now faces the reality that marriage may not be in sight for her three-year engagement. Griffith adds layers to her character as she balances playing an unassuming wallflower of a woman, and commanding the attention of the audience as she belts out an almost operatic version of ‘My White Knight’ from the Music Man. Griffith landed every note, line and nuanced gesture easily making her one of my favorite performers of the night.
Not to be outshone is Daniel De Cranie-Peirre who plays her aloof businessman of a boyfriend, Tim. With a similar operatic style as Griffith, his voice lends to a depth and smoothness that is put on full display during his performance of Moulin Rouge’s ‘El Tango De Roxanne.‘ What is noteworthy is that he was originally cast as one of the supporting characters but due to a last-minute complication, he was recast the night before in the lead role of Tim. I can safely say if it weren’t for the cast update published on the day of the show, from the audience’s point of view, not only could we not tell, but De Cranie-Peirre managed to fully assume the character of Tim with a believability that is maintained as the story progressed.
Furthermore, the thoughtful inclusion of performances by the supporting cast served almost as a palate cleanser while keeping the momentum going. Misty-Ann Knights, Noelle Archer, Stephan Bellamy and Kearn Samuel danced and sang the night away with numbers such as ‘Another Hundred People’ from Company, and ‘Ten Minutes Ago’ from Rogers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella to name a few. Serving as narrator, comic relief and a means of plot development, the supporting cast added another layer to a multi-dimensional production. I particularly appreciate how they did not feel like an afterthought; that consideration went into the scenes in which they were featured, just as the leads. Out of the entire supporting cast however, it was Bellamy who really captured my attention, as I hung onto every note with his rendition of ‘Mister Cellophane’ from Chicago.
‘Theatre Night Out III’ was a night made possible by the immensely talented creative and production team under the helm of Producer – Tiana Chandler and Director – Chanel Quesnel. Powerhouses in their own right, together they are both successful in molding this production into a memorable theatrical experience. Musical Director Michael Hudlin’s talent and passion oozed from every addictively toe-tapping and evocatively emotional number, perfectly suited to the story and script, which is expertly crafted by Janine Charles-Farray, as she treads the line between reality and musical fantasy.
Credited for all the right moves are Choreographer Triston Wallace with Associate Choreography by Breige Wilson. A personal favorite is the dynamic and dramatic choreography of ‘El Tango De Roxanne’, mirroring the conflict between Nate, Tim and Roxy as it crescendoed into a palpable love triangle. Trevon Jugmohan served as Stage Direction Consultant, and ensured full usage of the stage. I particularly appreciate that the scenes were not all set center stage, adding to the dynamic element. What threw me however, was the questionable entrances and exits on and off stage and that the actors’ backs would face the audience from time to time. It reminded me of a rule I learned in my first university theatre course: “No back and neck, only breast and wing.”
In that vein, I also was at a bit of a loss in terms of the scenic design. The white on white monochrome-esque scene was aesthetically pleasing, but I could not look past the yards of ceiling to floor white fabric in the background. While I can appreciate an artistic depiction as opposed to something literal, this was one element that caught my attention and not for the right reasons. There was also the issue of time that does not lend to the believability of the narrative. While Palmiste Park is a popular romantic spot for couples old and young, it is hardly likely to find anyone there at night, or for a ‘date night’ for that matter. I guess this was where I was supposed to suspend my disbelief. These issues, though small, robbed the audience from the full experience and did an injustice to an otherwise solid production. Lighting by Kinly Lighting Design executed a flawlessly romantic, softly lit stage – an almost dream like scene, and sound by Simplicity Sound Systems added to the experience, though there were times where the music was louder than the vocals, especially in Alleyne’s first number.
While I definitely enjoyed this production, I couldn’t help but feel disheartened by the sea of empty seats that littered the auditorium. Marketing and Publicity was done by Black Collar Creative Ltd., and although ‘Theatre Night Out III’ had significant coverage in the traditional and social media, the crowds unfortunately did not bite. With the marketing campaign being launched a mere three weeks before the carded show date, perhaps it was the timing and timeframe which ultimately worked against the production attracting more cheeks to the seats. And what a shame indeed because it was a refreshing, upscale change from the mainstream Trini bachannal route that is over-trod, bringing Broadway to our shores, revitalizing and pushing the limits of what we are capable of as creatives.
Theatre Night Out III (online) will be available for a repeat viewing before the end of 2022, with dates to be announced soon. Stay tuned to chandelierproductionstt.com
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Hi! I’m Anil and I wear many hats: entrepreneur, digital story-teller, content creator and Casting Assistant with the T&T Performing Arts Network to name a few. My fascination with written text and it’s evocative nature began as a teen, and eventually led me to pursue a B.A in Literature and Linguistics with a minor in Education at The University of the West Indies.
While I am a full time Cake Artist, the Arts will always be my first passion. I’ve been fortunate enough recently to delve into the magical realm of theatre and share my experiences with others. When I’m not grinding I’m often found on some adventure near or far, or tucked away in a cozy coffeeshop buried in a book, updating my blog – Knock About Trini, or trying to become a self taught badass polyglot.