by Tyrone Reid
“The type of theatre I am interested in is of a quality that you can probably see off-Broadway and which, I believe, can be Jamaicanized,” notes Keiran King ahead of this summer’s Last Call, his debut writing-directorial project, which happens to be a romantic musical drama set at the dawn of the 1950s at Kingston’s once-flourishing Myrtle Bank Hotel. It’s no doubt an ambitious but undeniably buzzy undertaking for the budding playwright and director, fresh off a surprising Best Actor win at the Actor Boy Awards for another musical, White Witch.
As ever, a touch of nostalgia and genuine quality akin to the Great White Way to our cultural landscape is always welcome, and it would appear that Last Call is up to the task, judging by a brief dramatic reading of two scenes at the Talking Trees Literary Fiesta on Saturday. Last Call is an account, split in two acts, of four best friends who reunite after a decade at the Myrtle Bank’s main lounge to catch up on each other’s careers and general life developments. As for the cast, Maurice Bryan, Aisha Davis, Rishille Bellamy-Pelicie, Shayne Powell – and Andrew Lawrence as a bartender – will take on the roles, while Scarlett Beharie serves as producer.
King, who has studied screenwriting in the US and even interned in Hollywood, explains that stories shared by his grandfather (who passed in January) largely inspired the script, while the music will be a mix of original compositions and standout selections that mark the period where the play is laid. With the promise of a production spiked with friendships, vintage sounds and a glossy piece of Jamaica’s past, no wonder Last Call remains one of the hotly anticipated plays coming out this year. Opening night: July 29, Philip Sherlock Centre, UWI Mona.