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Jamaica – Original Broadway Cast Recording 1957

Jamaica – Original Broadway Cast Recording 1957

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Synopsis

On a tropical island paradise called Pigeon’s Island off the coast of Jamaica, Koli, a poor, handsome fisherman, loves the beautiful Savannah. But she does nothing but dream of a life in New York City. When an opportunistic hustler named Joe Nashua comes to this quiet place to explore the possibility of establishing a pearl-diving business, Savannah can see her way to an all-expenses-paid trip to “that little island on the Hudson.” Nashua persuades the local fishermen to give up their normal pursuits and go diving in the shark-infested waters. A hurricane kicks up, and Koli saves the life of Savannah’s little brother. She finally comes face to face with reality, visiting New York only in a dream ballet, and accepts Koli’s devotion, as the fishermen return to their nets. Time Magazine, in a review dated November 11, 1957, offered some insight into the reasons for the popularity of Jamaica, despite the inadequacies of its plot: “Its achievement … is more one of atmosphere than of action, of grace than of speed.… the book … has an idiot simplicity and an almost insolent lack of purpose; it sort of timidly shuffles about between tunes, seldom even daring to let go with gags. [Lena Horne] is beautiful, and with what elegant sexuality she twists about in tight-curving, fishtail skirts. She is accomplished in a way all her own, seldom raising her voice, never neon-lighting her effects. “Composer [Arlen’s] score, here modestly intricate, there suddenly lyrical, has more individual appeal and island charm than routine tropical heat. The entertaining lyrics in Jamaica are never once belted out, nor are the tunes whistled afterwards in the lobby. A show so lightly strummed, so insouciantly strutted, so frilled and beflowered needs to be stylish. Jack Cole’s pictorial dances, Oliver Smith’s airy sets, Miles White’s gorgeous costumes give it style. If it has almost no Broadway snap, it has even less Broadway brassiness. If this is a Jamaica with little ginger and no rum, those, after all, are largely its exports. Lena Horne, gay colors, winning tunes – and even its shiftless lie-in-the-sun libretto – are its tourist attractions.”

Credits

Koli: Ricardo Montalban Quico: Augustine Rios Savannah: Lena Horne Grandma Obeah: Adelaide Hall Ginger: Josephine Premice Snodgrass: Roy Thompson Hucklebuck: Hugh Dilworth Island Women: Ethel Ayler, Adelaide Boatner The Governor: Erik Rhodes Cicero: Ossie Davis Lancaster: James E. Wall First Ship’s Officer: Tony Martinez Second Ship’s Officer: Michael Wright Joe Nashua: Joe Adams Dock Worker: Allen Richards Radio Announcer: Alan Shayne Lead Dancers: Alvin Ailey, Christyne Lawson Ensemble: Ethel Ayler, Adelaide Boatner, Jayne Craddock, Norma Donaldson, Patricia Dunn, Doris Galiber, Lavinia Hamilton, Sandra Hinton, Chailendra Jones, Audrey Mason, Sally Neal, Pearl Reynolds, Christine Spencer, Carolyn Stanford, Jacqueline Wacott, Barbara Wright, George Boreland, Hugh Bryant, Herb Coleman, Hugh Dilworth, Frank Glass, Harold Gordon, Nat Horne, Albert Johnson, Tony Martinez, Jim McMillan, Charles Moore, Allen Richards, Claude Thompson, Roy Thompson, Billy Wilson, Michael Wright, Ben Vargas