Young at Arts performers stage ‘Isabel’

The cast of ‘Isabel.’ From left, Jaedyn Hanna, Layah Ebanks, Lebron McLean, Aleah Copeland, Ericka Rockett-McBean, Katherine Erskine and Jada Bodden.

Lines have been memorized, staging has been blocked, lights are in place and the stage is set for the production of “Isabel,” scheduled to run from Aug. 5-7. This musical is the culmination of the Young at Arts program.

Seven aspiring actors, dancers and musicians participated in the eight-week program, supported by Butterfield and hosted by the Cayman National Cultural Foundation, which trains young artists in the practical disciplines of performing arts.

Participants aged 12-19 received instruction from qualified performing arts instructors and practitioners in drama, music/voice, dance and technical theater. In the program this year were: Lebron McLean, Ericka Rockett-McBean, Jada Bodden, Aleah Copeland, Layah Ebanks, Katherine Erskine and Jaedyn Hanna.

One of the cast members, Ericka Rockett-McBean, gave an account of her experience, saying, “This summer has been quite the journey thus far. My tutors have left me with lifelong lessons that I will hold dear forever, mainly to ‘always bare your soul’ when performing; to ‘trust the captain’ when preparing; and ‘rehearse at 100 percent.’ When I arrived, I knew no one, but now we are like a little family.”

Students in the program will put the lessons they have learned to practical use as they stage “Isabel.” The musical, by local playwright Patricia Bent, tells the story of a boy and a girl who fall in love under the most unusual circumstances. It is a Caymanian love story.

From left, Ericka Rockett-Mcbean and Aleah Copeland in a scene as Granpa and Phillip.
From left, Ericka Rockett-Mcbean and Aleah Copeland in a scene as Granpa and Phillip.

Taking the reins of the production is the regionally acclaimed director Eugene Williams. He has more than 30 years of experience in theater, starting in his native Guyana, where he was a leading actor at the Theatre Guild. Most recently, he was the director of Jamaica’s School of Drama.

Reflecting on the talent and growth of the students, Williams said, “It has been a pleasure working with this talented and very intelligent bunch of participants. The process has been about providing stimulation for their own creativity towards an interpretation of their various roles. But it has also been about their personal development as they engage with the literature and expressive demands of the art of the theater. We look forward to sharing what we expect will be an entertaining outcome.”

Program manager Patrice Beersingh said, “It is amazing to see the talent of each student evolve from the audition process for the Young at Arts program held a few weeks ago, to now having worked with a world-class director and dramaturge such as Mr. Williams. This successful development is a direct reflection of the work of CNCF and its programs. The public should not miss this production, as they will have missed the opportunity to see and support the true potential of some of our brightest young stars in the performing arts.”

The show will begin on Aug. 5, at 8 p.m. There are two shows on Aug. 6, at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. On Aug. 7 there is one show only, at 6 p.m. Tickets are $5 each and can be purchased at the Harquail Theatre.