Jamaica Is Setting for Emotional Crossroads in Play-With-Reggae-Music, Driving on the Left Side, June 25 in NYC

News   Jamaica Is Setting for Emotional Crossroads in Play-With-Reggae-Music, Driving on the Left Side, June 25 in NYC Driving on the Left Side, a new "reggae play" by Amy Merrill, makes its premiere June 25 at Off-Broadway's TBG Theatre.
Promotional art for Driving on the Left Side
Promotional art for Driving on the Left Side

Blackbird Productions presents the Jamaica-set play, directed by Florante Galvez and flavored with live music from a reggae band. The cast includes Sharon Tsahai King as Celia, Jennifer McCabe as Serena, Paul Navarra as George and Postell Pringle as Cowboy.

Opening is June 30 at TBG Theatre, formerly called The Barrow Group Theatre, 312 W. 36th Street.

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" Driving on the Left is the story of four people each at their own personal and professional crossroads," according to production notes. "Serena, a young school teacher from Buffalo, has just been left at the altar by her high school sweetheart. Confused and angry, she impulsively goes on her honeymoon alone, where she meets the charismatic Cowboy. By day, Cowboy is a taxi driver, hustling tips and offering tours, yet by night he's a hot singer in a cool reggae band. Young, talented and ambitious, Cowboy questions his future – as well as his commitments to his band mates and homeland – after receiving some unexpected news. At the same time, Serena's estranged father, George, flies to Jamaica in a rage of concern, searching for a second chance to be a better father to his only child."

The characters "converge upon the country home of Cowboy's mother, Celia, who serves up her recipe of wisdom and common sense while enjoying the disruption of her all-too-quiet life." The play features live, original reggae music performed by the band Reggaelution, under the direction of Aljam Smith. Original music is by Mark Shine/Chillup Publishing LLC and members of Reggaelution.

Co-producer/playwright Amy Merrill's The TV War, about a Vietnam veteran's experiences with Agent Orange, premiered at the Lyric Stage in Boston, then toured colleges and universities throughout Massachusetts. Sugar Hill, co-authored with Robert Johnson Jr., premiered at the BCA Theatre in Boston. While living in Nashville and researching Cigareets and Whiskey, a play with music about a country singer who runs away from Nashville, Merrill collaborated with acclaimed singer/songwriter Gail Davies, who wrote original music for the play. Merrill recently founded Blackbird Productions, Inc., dedicated to new plays and playwrights. In 2004, Blackbird produced the workshop production of Driving on the Left Side and the Boston engagement of I Don't Wanna Play House, Tammy Anderson's one-woman show with country music about growing up poor and Aboriginal in Australia. Born in St. Louis, Merrill lives in Boston and is an assistant professor at Berklee College of Music.

Designers for Driving on the Left Side are Carlo Adinolfi (scenic), Ali Turns (costume), Federico Restrepo (lighting) and Andrew Fremont Smith (sound).

Reggaelution is comprised of band members Al "Aljam" Smith (Bandleader/Vocals/Guitar), Delroy Campbell (Vocals/Percussion), Bunny Cunningham (Keyboard/Vocals) and George Ricketts (Bass/Writer/Arranger).

Director Galvez is a director, playwright and composer-lyricist from Jamaica, New York.

Producer and general manager Rita A. Fucillo is the president of Tempest Theatrical Group, a theatrical general management and production company and is also director of marketing and public relations for Northeast Playbill. Among her current projects, in addition to Driving on the Left Side , are Tip (according to Tip) , based on the life of House Speaker Tip O'Neill, starring Ken Howard; 8-Track, The Sounds of the 70s , premiering at Stoneham Theatre in July; and the world premiere of Bernard M. Kahn's Secrets slated for a late fall '05 opening in Boston.

Performances play Wednesday-Friday at 8 PM, Saturdays at 4 PM and 8 PM, and Sundays at 3 PM and 7 PM.

Tickets are $40 and are now available by contacting SmartTix.com or calling (212) 868-4444, or in-person at TBG Theatre box office.

For more information, visit drivingotheleftside.com.

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There is an added performance on Tuesday June 28. The opening night curtain on June 30 is at 7:30 PM. There is no 7 PM performance on July 3.

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