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Much ado about ‘Der Real Ting!! Musical’

SiP jukebox musical featuring 25 of Eddie Minnis’ songs is a depiction of what it meant to be Bahamian in the 1970s and in general
Michael Williams (Dion Johnson), left, and his parents Amos Williams (K. Quincy Parker), right, and Sara Williams (Rose Barrett), second right, confront John Williams (Osano W.L. Neely) during a performance of “Der Real Ting!! Musical”, featuring the songs of Eddie Minnis, which debuted at the 10th Annual Shakespeare in Paradise at the Dundas Theatre. PHOTOS: TORRELL GLINTON

I’m going to have to steal a line from William Shakespeare and change it up just a tad, because there’s much ado about “Der Real Ting!! Musical” – and you need not walk, but rather run to the Dundas Box Office to score tickets to this jukebox musical which made its debut at the 10th season of Shakespeare in Paradise (SiP).

Set 42 years ago, the play follows the fortunes of brothers Mike Williams (Dion Johnson), a politician, and Johnny Williams (Osano W.L. Neely), a jitney driver – and Carmen (Anja Bowe), whose attention they both vie for. The play takes the audience through the ups and downs of the trio. Their rise, their fall and their rise again – like the phoenix from the ashes (or would that be the bottom of the liquor bottle?) and is based on the music of the legendary Eddie Minnis, whose satirical eye spans decades from the 1970s to the present.

The story is told by the brothers – with Mike telling Johnny’s story; and Johnny telling Mike’s story – through their own eyes. And they spill all the dirt (or tea if you’re using modern vernacular). Mike starts at the top and you get to watch as he falls epically, after “stabbing” his good friends and fellow politicians Clinton Roberts (Rossano Deal) and Joshua Hanna (Alfred A. Culmer) in the back; while Johnny’s story starts out in the middle, you get to witness his fall, and rise back up. It’s a story that comes full circle in the telling.

“Der Real Ting!! Musical” is a depiction of what it meant to be Bahamian in the 1970s and what it means to be Bahamians. Even now it’s amazing that Minnis’ songs haven’t lost their relevance. They can teach those who don’t know and can remind those who do know.

The musical features 25 of Minnis’ former hits, songs that even though written in the early 1970s have lyrics that still ring true today – “Carmen”, “Alcohol”, “People to People”, “Straighten Up & Fly Right”, “Shot Gun Weddin’”, “Naughty Johnny”, “Never Satisfied”, “Mind Your Own Business”, “Finance Man”, “Mike”, “Nassau People” – I’m certain you can get the gist of the storyline that’s told.

The writers promised that the new musical would have you dancing in the Dundas aisles. I attended the Wednesday evening gala and while no dancing ensued, people were certainly singing along and bobbing their heads.

It was also amazing to witness the seamless segues from the speaking roles to the musical renditions.

And of course, it wouldn’t be an Eddie Minnis-related show if Granny B. didn’t somehow sneak her way in there.

“Der Real Ting!! Musical” is a must see, and with the last two evening shows almost sold out, you need to run to snag your ticket.

The jukebox musical is culturally rich and an opportunity to witness the talent in the country.

Amos Williams, the brother’s father, is played by K. Quincy Parker and their mother, Sara Williams, is played by Rose Barrett. Ezra Thompson is portrayed by Gregory Deane, who is responsible for the great productions that Queen’s College has been putting on in recent years.

Rounding out the cast are Dee Dee (Fabienne Bailey-Brown); Mr. Deleveaux and magistrate (Tex Turnquest); Miss Annie and main squeeze (Lyndee Bowe); cousin Joe and judge (Vernal Adderley); sweetheart (Sasha Major); Miss Florrie and Mrs. Deleveaux (Nicolette Archer); Miss Bessie (Contanza Adderley); and Granny B. (Delores “Red” Adderley).

SiP celebrates theater in all its forms, not just Shakespeare. It was conceived by Ringplay Productions to celebrate the best of the past while developing a brighter, stronger future.

“Der Real Ting!! Musical” closes out the theater festival which this year also featured William Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” directed by Erin T. Knowles; and Short Tales, a collection of 10 short plays written by local playwrights – “Murphy’s Storm” by Inderia Reeba Green, directed by Enith Darling; “Music Box” by Anjellina Alexander, directed by Leslie Ellis-Tynes; “Turkey And Ham” by Heather L. Thompson, directed by Crysal Darling; “Gatekeeper” by Nicolette Bethel, directed by Anthony K.T. Roberts; “Hynocratic Roast” by Anthony Wallas, directed by Craig Smith; “the lies we tell our amygdala” by Myra McPhee, directed by Renee Caesar; “The Therapist” by J. Ben-Hepburn and Patrice Francis; “Uvunjaji: The Betrayal” by Selina Archer, directed by Michaella Forbes; “No Good Men” by S.A. Hanna, directed by Valene Rolle; and “D.J. Coconut” by Patrice Francis, directed by Valene Rolle.

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