Massy Trinidad All Stars launched its 85th anniversary celebrations last weekend with its 12th biennial concert, Classical Jewels XII, at the Lord Kitchener Auditorium, National Academy for the Performing Arts in Port of Spain with a delightful night of music from the movies.
Opening with the renowned Star Wars Theme, All Stars performed sterling renditions of Raider’s March from Indiana Jones, the Love Theme from The Godfather (featuring soloist, Dane Gulston and the National Philharmonic Orchestra and conducted by Dr Roger Henry) and Hedwig’s Theme from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, (featuring Simon Browne on violin, Hayward Mickens on keyboard and Sule Sampson on pan).
This was followed by a Sound of Music medley featuring the University of TT (UTT) Choir and Mickens on keyboard, as adapted by Dr Mia Gormandy-Benjamin. The first half ended solemnly as The Bells of Notre Dame from The Hunchback of Notre Dame was adapted by Gormandy-Benjamin and featured Anton Williams, Kory Mendez, Shellon Antoine, Roxann Breseno and the UTT Choir.
Seated in the interactive audience were Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and his wife, Sharon, who enjoyed just over two hours of classical music renditions. From the echoes of applause, those in attendance were quite blown away with the production.
Former president of the Law Association Martin Daly SC shared a positive review during intermission. He said: “We have all of this talent in TT, but we haven’t been able to find the best ways to showcase it to the world, so maybe we need to bring the world to us – and someone should invest and bring a plane full of Hollywood executives here to experience amazing shows like this and take it back to the world for us. This is phenomenal! The second half is just a bonus now because this first segment was incredible...”
In the setting, narrators Marvin Ishmael, Sachelle Thomas and Shane Holford added continuity and just the right amount of humour to the production, as they pretended to be a family out at the movies while seated (and miked) amidst the audience. The trio enjoyed the action on screen (onstage) in spite of the father figure’s fixation with meeting and getting a photo with the prime minister, whom he said repeatedly was “rumoured to be present” somewhere in the theatre.
The second half opened with the All Stars Youth Orchestra delivering a Disney medley leading into the Pink Panther theme as adapted by Kygel Benjamin and featuring Ishmael Camejo on trumpet. The Flying Theme from ET the Extra Terrestrial and He’s a Pirate from Pirates of the Caribbean were presented next.
The senior orchestra did a mind-blowing rendition of All I Ask of You from the Phantom of the Opera. Featuring outstanding vocalists Danielle Williams and Kory Mendez, alongside the National Philharmonic Orchestra, this particular performance delivered much of the action, drama, mystery and melancholy of the original film and paved the way for a darker sequence, as guest conductor Henry led the two orchestras through a terrifying Horror Film medley.
Fans of the classic Western film, The Magnificent Seven, were seen singing along with the performance, as clips from the show appeared on the screen located behind the musicians onstage. The final song of the night featured the Wasafoli drummers and dancers, in addition to a highly-acrobatic Black Panther superhero, who accentuated and enhanced the All Stars' rendition of Spirit Lifting from the mega-successful 2018 Black Panther film.
There would be no Woman on the Bass encore for patrons at the end however, as in true movie fashion, the curtains closed in on the stage and sent many patrons home wanting more.