THE 3canal Show 2020: Revolution Time opened with a bang on Wednesday at the Big Black Box, Murray Street, Woodbrook, Port of Spain. Lead vocalist Wendell Manwarren said the production was a commemoration of the golden anniversary of the 1970 Black Power Revolution, and the re-evolution of the revolution.
This year's theatrical presentation featured the return of Dr Pastor Frankie Love (Marvin Dowridge), formerly of the Big Love Party, in the role of Commander of the Big Black Box Battalion. Under his crazed leadership, assisted by his "generals," he prepared the battalion to fight for the revolution of love. The production featured a full complement of backup dancers and vocalists, who danced and sang with skill and verve. The battalion was divided into Recruits, the Air Force, the Special Forces aka Divas, led by the High Command. The High Command was portrayed by Mizz Jinnay, Reena Christian, Mogabi Thomas, Kimmy Stoute-Robinson, Elisha Bartels and Nydia Byron. During their performance, they exhorted the audience to come together, challenge hate, and prepare for the revolution.
The trio – Manwarren, Roger Roberts and Stanton Kewley – performed a mix of old and new songs, which had attendees bouncing in their chairs, dancing and singing along lustily. These included Raw, Can't Done, Hiyah, Jumbie, Borderline, Salt, Power to the People, I Am, Revolution, I Believe, Healing, All Around the World, Sacrifice, Power, Over Me, Spirit, Walk in Beauty, and No Place Like Home. The group also performed rapso legend Lancelot Layne's Blow Way, in tribute to the artiste, as the song, released in 1970, was the first rapso recording. Manwarren said the group is still able to proudly represent the spirit of revolution because of Layne's work, and his music is still relevant today.
The songs celebrated patriotism, revolution, loving oneself, fighting corruption, the power of ordinary people, healing, love, sacrifice, and celebrated the living ritual that is J'Ouvert. Crowd favourites included Jumbie, the ever popular Salt, and No Place Like Home, which extolled the virtues of TT, despite all the indiscipline, intolerance and lack of production.
The show also featured performances by the Young Guns, upcoming artists nurtured by the group: Jelae Stroude-Mitchell aka Rude Gyal Rapso Feminist singing Self-Proclaim, The Brothers Thomas (Mogabi and Shermarke Thomas) singing We Jammin', and Mizz Jinnay with her hit song, Love is Love.
The smaller space in the Black Box, as opposed to the group's usual venue at Queen's Hall, allowed for a more intimate vibe to the performance, and for the group to connect to their audience in a more personal way. Tickets were priced according to whether or not the patron wanted to reserve a seat. Many took advantage of the higher-priced option, while the other option appeal to those who wanted to take advantage of the dance floor. The audience on opening night comprised a mature crowd.
The group was backed by Simon Mendoza on keyboards, Kiwan Landreth-Smith on guitar, Keshav Singh on percussion, Joanna Maria Hussain on bass, John Ottway on drums and Jayron Rawkus Remy on sequencers. Sound engineer Marcus Sammy and lighting designer and operator Steven Rovedas, along with stage manager Tonya Evans, kept the show moving smoothly with no technical glitches.
The 3canal Show 2020 continues to February 22. Tickets are available at the Big Black Box. For more information, call 622-1001.