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‘The Best Show I’ve ever seen’

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Having been privileged to attend the world premiere of ‘We Are Climbin Jacob’s Ladder’ on Sunday, this writer has no qualms about declaring it was the Best Show I’ve ever seen, live and direct, up front. It was at the First Church of God, Angle Street, Hamilton. We call it a ‘show’ for want of a more impactful word; certainly not a concert, or simply a programme. It was a home-grown, star-studded presentation that fully lived up to its billing of being an inspirational, motivational, spiritual mystery. If we could, would take the rest of Bermuda along for an out-of- the-ordinary uplift. at any of the other scheduled repeat performances, starting tomorrow at Mount Zion AME Church, Southampton and at other churches during the following month. Show producer was one-time school Principal, Government Cabinet Minister of Culture Dale Butler. I generally refer to him as the irrepressible, researcher and author, who has transitioned his Atlantic Publishing House as a highly productive book producing entity into a modern digital documentary stream. Dale used a dozen familiar Negro Spirituals backed up by the Giant Steps Band to develop the ‘mystery’ of ‘Climbin’ into a modern, old fashion church service. Super-star Glen Iris in his role as the Minister, got things underway in high gear, sanctimoniously taking his place in the pulpit, singing a cappella, ‘I’ve Got a Robe’ with the appropriate interjections that would eclipse many a practicing ordained puppeteer. He was followed by others in the cast, June and Phiemma Caisey, Cleveland (Outtasight) Simmons and John Holdipp, realistically taking their places in the amen corner of the church as the band played ‘Lord, Lord, Do You Remember Me’, and the congregation just naturally joining in the singing. With prayer time being the next order in the service, Mother June Caisey and daughter Phiemma were on their knees at the altar, rendering ‘It’s Me, its me of Lord’. Later in the show they teamed with Lavette Fuentes singing ‘Let Us Break Bread Together,’ and ‘Walk Together Children’. In quick order there was Nashunte Bailey with her ‘Give Me That Old-Time Religion’, ‘Sometimes I feel like a Motherless Child’ and ‘Steal Away,’ all backed up the band or soloists in the band. Toni Robinson strode from one place or another in the congregation to the altar at different stages rendering ‘Precious Lord’ a cappella or with the band ‘I Know The Lord Laid His Hands Of Me; and again a cappella, ‘Hush. Somebody’s Calling My Name’. The ‘mystery part’ of the show was yet to come which has to be seen and heard for realisation, bringing soloists Gerald Simons and John Holdipp to the fore as well as elocutionist Danny Richardson. That was followed by the sermon, a powerful interpretation by preacher Glen Iris of The Creation. The grand climax was presentation of flowers to the show’s patrons. Chief patron was 92-year-old Sister Susan Elizabeth Gumbs. Declining the offer of the microphone by the pastor for a response, she made her way to the nearby organ for a superstar, roof-raising performance that brought the congregation to its feet, for first one encore then another. As I stated before, this show was great, a fitting tribute to the Rev Edward B Grant, the iconic founder and builder of the First Church of God, Angle Street, in 1905, making it the citadel and spawning ground for ‘black culture’ in Bermuda during the next 25 years he was at the helm, and for generations beyond.

Author, teacher, school principal, politician and Cabinet Minister and now playwright Dale Butler stands in front of the mural created by Gayle Santucci Palacio for his play ‘We Are Climbin Jacob’s Ladder’. Mrs Santucci Palacio was assisted by her daughter Indigo, Patsy Dill, Peter Simmons and Mr Butler.
Veteran actress, vocalist and stage manager June Caisey, a legend in her own right, was joined by daughter Phiemma Caisey, a singer and producer who began her career at age seven with her father Albert Caisey, dubbed “Little Miss Wonder”. Toni Robinson, known as Bermuda’s National soprano, has been ministering throughout the Island and overseas since she was 13. Toni was musical director for Dale Butler’s Show. Nishanti Bailey, a Spelman College graduate with a beautiful mezzo-soprano voice had a dramatic part in event. LaVette Feuntes displayed the versatility that has launched her fantastically at home and abroad as an attention-getting Soul, Rhythm & Blues and Rock singer. Also in the show are Cleveland (Outtasight) Simmons; choir director and soloist Gerald Simons, John Holdipp the lead tenor in Mount Zion Male Voice Choir and elocutionist Denny Richardson.
Photo by Glenn Tucker Art Specialist Gail Santucci Palacio stands next to her creation 'Jacobs Ladder' on Angle Street. The artistic expression came about as the backdrop of Dale Butler's play of the same name.
African dancers perform as part of Dale Butler's play ‘We Are Climbin Jacob’s Ladder’.