Butler’s troupe do it again
Without missing a beat, the irrepressible Dale Butler and his multi-talented troupe have done it again! First it was “Joshua Climbin Jacob’s Ladder,” ‘back of town’ and elsewhere. Now its “Shakespeare in The Cedar O.” The ‘Cedar O’ is the fascinating garden setting of ‘Butler Villa,’ the Angle Street residence of the Butlers. As Dale put it, “Shakespeare was really a Bye, Bard From Back ‘A Tarn who frequented Hubies Bar in Angle Street, and the Jamaican Grill around the corner.. Directed by iconic Rotimi Martins, it was a highly educational and hilarious production all wrapped up in one. It was acted out by Denny Richardson, Charles Jeffers, Wentworth Christopher, drawing effortlessly from the Shakespeare instilled in their old memory banks decades ago when they were students under teacher Merle Brock Swan at the Berkeley Institute. While Climbin Jacob’s Ladder was strictly from the Holy Writ, Dale’s newest venture is from “the incomplete works of Bermudian Vill-yum Shakespeare.” There is the typical Bermudian gossip including nicknames about poor Vill-yum and his works. Also the Bermy Version of Romeo and Juliet, the playwright’s “To Be or Not to Be” comes across in the production as “What it is, Is What It Is”. The facts about Shakespeare are given in one breath, and in the next comes the Bermuda gossip version. Born in Stafford-upon-Avon April 13, 1564 (they think), to a mother of gentle birth with Charles Jeffers enunciating that fact with a perfect ‘Limey” accent and smile and then comes the Bermuda gossip: Born Back A Tarn, third child and eldest son of John (Shakey Pear) and Mary Shakes. She was a good girl, daughter of Robert of Angle Street. The English version of The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, with the Bermuda version being The Tragedy of Weatherbird, Prince of Back A Tarn. Talented promoter and singer Darlene Hartley, who was such at hit in ‘Jacobs Ladder’ sets the pace for the new production, launching it with a rendition of the song she co-authored “Our Heritage”. In the song she countermands Shakespeare’s depiction of Bermuda as The Isle of Devils, to its really being Paradise Isle. Denny Richardson was the star of the show. He was seen in the opening act seated at an old-fashion school desk doing his home work, and later going to bed reciting poetry. Denny said he has been enjoying Shakespeare since elementary school, and seemingly has not forgotten a line he learnt. He has appeared in plays like “Our Husband’s Gone Mad,” “Mazumbo” and at one time or another personifying Marcus Garvey the Jamaican-born revolutionary who was not allowed to come ashore when his ship docked in Hamilton. A former president of the Leopards Club International, Denny has a strong and abiding interest in history, especially about the uprooting in the 1929s and 30s of black families from their homes in Tucker’s Town to accommodate wealthy white interests. He is also a skilled musician and hat maker. He is often called upon to demonstrate his tremendous building skills. Charles Jeffers first appeared on stage in December 1944 to recite a Christmas Poem at the First Church of God, Angle Street, and evidently has not looked back since. He has been in numerous productions; is a businessman, radio co-host and former candidate in General Elections. Others in supporting roles were David Bean a seaman in Government’s Department of Marine and Ports. He displayed his deftness at making music through an ordinary leaf, which is an art he developed as a Rotary Exchange Student to Mexico in 2001. Also there was Burnell Williams, who is best known as a martial artist and life-style coach, who entertained with his harmonica. Also as Shakespeare’s Bernardo, played by Myron ‘Loose Lips’ Wilson and Kevina ‘Popcorn’ Bean, who entered the scene as Shakespeare’s Francisco, a sentinel standing on guard. And there was an intermission guest appearance by soprano Elca Maranzana, who was visiting from New York. She’s no stranger to Bermuda, having first performed for Michael Douglas for the 1999 opening of the Bermuda School of Music; and later at the Jose Carreirs Concert at Southampton Princess Hotel Guests who forked out nearly $100 a ticket attending the premiere were treated to sumptuous wine and dinner buffet prepared by Dale’s wife Marrak Butler. Funds raised at the event will go towards the tour to Cuba next December by the Bermudian Giants Step band.