Review: The Cross At Earl Cameron Theatre

April 21, 2022

[Written by Dale Butler]

City Hall & Arts Center, located on Church Street in the City of Hamilton, became an arena of live activity on Saturday, April 16, 2022, with vendors on Nellie’s Walk, the Fresh Air Films in the car park featuring Encanto and Spider-Man, and the Bermuda premiere of a theatrical work ‘The Cross – The Untold Story of Simon of Cyrene’ in the Earl Cameron Theatre.

Playwrights Dr. John Duncan, Dana Lightbourne and Joelle Williams should be commended for their production and their fortitude during our difficult COVID-19 period.

It goes without saying that actors need a stage in order to interact and they require direction to bring it to life. How they were able to do all of that, and build beautiful scenery, was indeed a miracle brought to us in nine scenes by The Praise Theatre, founded in 2016. Their goal of offering hope to the community through the performing arts, education and civic engagement was achieved with dancers, a live experienced band of virtuosos who were in the orchestra pit, along with first class exuberant singers who captured our attention from the beginning to the end.

Religious plays have played a key role in the development of the church and young people, in particular, are able to establish their roots and gain confidence before they face an audience as leaders. The Restoration Ministries crowned their week with a full programme from Pathfinders, Adventurers and Youth that would culminate later with the distribution of 200 food hampers for the needy the next day.

Host Pastor Damon Hendrickson led the way with conviction and energy. Many careers in politics started within the church where congregations tend to be more supportive, especially when it comes to the delivery of lines. This cast, I am pleased to say, was flawless with their lines and made the play seem real. They held the audience in the palms of their hands with their jokes, mannerisms and, on one occasion, April Roach Maule played two roles – Abigail’s mother with a Bermudian accent and later as ‘The Old Nazarite Woman’ with a West Indian accent.

With additional lines about hot cross buns and Simon says, for example, the playwrights were sensitive to the amount of stress we are under and the audience released their pent up frustrations with raucous laughter.

The central figure of the play was Simon, the Cyrenian, who carried the cross for Jesus at the time of His Crucifixion. From the opening scene, accentuating family doubt about Jesus as the Messiah, until its closing, there were several highlights. I can only say the actors were all very good but, by far, the most convincing was Harry Bean who made his debut by climbing the Oscar Academy steps in one jump by playing Jesus of Nazareth.

It wasn’t his dress, but his entire stage presence, mannerisms, vocal tone and reactions which enhanced the total play in what has always been a difficult role, and could have fallen flat for a novice actor. The directors are deserving of applause for taking a risk with him and many others who may have lacked experience – clearly a message that the only prize they were after was influencing and winning souls and not a theatrical award which they nonetheless deserved.

I would be remiss if I did not add the following names of this illustrious cast and technicians:

  • Cast: Kevin Bailey, Leilani Trott, April Roach Maule, Jayden Coleman, A.J. Smith, Harry Bean, Bianca Veloso, Rendell Metellus
  • Dancers & Extras: Shia Bean, Mikayla Douglas, Janae Peterson, Shayna Simons
  • Extras: The Berkeley Institute acting IP4 Class: Somaia Saltus
  • The Background Vocalists: Cammy Burrows, Julia Clarke, Deonae Dickinson, Dana Lightbourne, Chelsea McNorton, Hadassah Metellus, Mystere Monteiro, Samone Outerbridge, Desirae Simons
  • Band: Raymond George, Sherwin Lee, Marvin Pitcher, Troy Washington
  • Production Team: Lighting Technician: John Waddell
  • Audio Technician: Torrey Tacklyn
  • Carpenter: Trevor Haynes, Greg Sergeant
  • Props Coordinator: Florence Sharpe
  • Stage Support: Berkeley S3 Advisory, Volunteers, Berkeley Technical
  • Theatre P7 Class
  • Video Technicians: ATV, Steve Ingham, Barry Richardson, JaKobi Albouy, Natisha Simmons, Jalon Smith

The coordination and execution of ‘The Cross – The Untold Story of Simon of Cyrene’ was a monumental effort which they produced for just one performance is hard to believe, but they did it and I commend them. It started on time, it was free, the actors, band and technicians did not take it lightly, and I think their mission of saving souls was achieved.

We can only look forward to more productions of this calibre, as difficult and as costly as they are. I salute them for their paperless [internet connect] colourful programme, and was impressed by their immediate responses the minute I heard of this play. It was truly professional and very much needed in Bermuda.

Thank you Restoration Ministries and all of your affiliates! I left empowered and blessed. Your audience will never forget the superb message which you delivered.

- Dale Butler, along with his music and restaurant reviews, is an author, historian, playwright of ‘The Second Last Supper,’ and filmmaker who writes regularly for Bernews. [Photos by Ricardo Clarke with thanks]

Photos courtesy of Ricardo Clarke

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