The dynamic and indispensable Carmen production team includes members of the Marionettes Executive and organising committees, as well as a team of extraordinary and award-winning designers and choreographers.
Artistic & Musical Director / Conductor, The Marionettes Chorale
Photo: Mark Lyndersay
Gretta Francis Taylor (MA, Dip.Ed, HBM Gold) has led the Marionettes since 1974. A graduate of the University of Toronto, an accomplished pianist and a highly successful piano and vocal teacher, she has completed several courses in choral conducting in Britain. She is a member of the Association of British Choral Directors (ABCD) and the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA), and regularly attends their conventions. Gretta received the Humming Bird Medal, Gold in 1990 for her outstanding services to music and culture in Trinidad & Tobago. In her personal capacity as a pianist, she has won the Norah Grant Trophy and the Trinidad Guardian Cup on several occasions at the biennial Music Festival, often with friend and colleague Susan Dore. As a teacher at St Joseph’s Convent (Port of Spain), she taught French, Spanish and General Paper (forms 1–6). She also directed the school’s choirs for 13 years, during which time the senior choir and its members regularly won top prizes in the Music Festival for solo, ensemble and choral singing, including the Prime Minister’s Trophy for the Most Outstanding Junior Choir of the festival. She also led a mixed school choir to the Youth Choral & Dance Festival in Vienna. In 2005, she was inducted into the school’s Hall of Excellence. Gretta has developed and extended the Marionettes’ range and repertoire substantially in her 35-plus years as musical director. Under her leadership, it has tackled with great success major choral works never before performed in the Caribbean, often in a contemporary idiom unfamiliar to Caribbean audiences. Her rigorous choral training and high professional standards have made the Marionettes one of the most respected performing groups in the region. “We are extremely proud of our calypso and steelband traditions, and regularly adapt them for the choir,” she says. “But we also want to show local and international audiences the vast range of talents and traditions that we have in the Caribbean. We want to move audiences with classic choral music and our own traditional music, and do both equally well in the same programme.”
Susan Dore (standing), Gretta Taylor (left) and Joanne Mendes (right). Photo: Mark Lyndersay
Production Manager / Board Secretary, The Marionettes Chorale
Joanne is one of the few remaining singers from the original group of Marionettes which debuted in 1964. She has been the Marionettes’ secretary since 1974, when she, Gretta and Susan assumed leadership of the choir. In addition to singing, she ensures that the various rehearsal and performance venues are booked and ready to go; keeps up-to-date membership and attendance lists; manages the choir’s finances and fundraising; liaises with long-time sponsors, bpTT; and does it all by meticulous advanced planning. As showtime nears, she also co-ordinates ticket distribution (delivering some personally), and oversees the show’s production elements. An enthusiastic and talented musician, Mendes trained for many years as a singer under the late Daphne Clifford. She competed successfully in many Music Festivals, both as a chorister and a soloist. Among her favourite singers are Grammy-award winning soprano Leontyne Price and mezzo-soprano Janet Baker. Her talents are not only musical, however, and Mendes has also shown a flair for the Carnival arts, helping out for several years in legendary masman Wayne Berkley’s mas camp. Joanne worked at AS Bryden and Geddes Grant/Huggins before co-founding Media & Editorial Projects (MEP), a publishing company specialising in the production of Caribbean books and magazines like Caribbean Airlines’ Caribbean Beat and Discover Trinidad & Tobago.
Assistant Musical Director, The Marionettes Chorale
Susan David Dore was born under the sun sign of Leo two years after the end of World War II into a family rich in musical tradition. Even before school age, she began learning the piano under the tutelage of Millicent Roberts, founder of the Rockley School of Music in Woodbrook. By age 15, Susan had completed all the Royal School of Music Examinations to Grade VIII, most of them with Distinction. A product of St Theresa’s Intermediate School in Woodbrook, she began and ended her working life with Republic Bank, from which she retired in 2002 as General Manager, Human Resources after 38 years of unbroken service. She grew up musically in the T&T Music Festival from its earliest days at the Roxy Cinema and the Victoria Institute (part of the Museum complex), and finally at the Queen’s Hall where in her final years of competition she partnered her long-time friend and colleague Gretta Taylor, winning piano duet and duo classes as well as the respective championships. She was invited to assist the Marionettes as accompanist in 1965, then auditioned as a singer and stayed on, becoming a fixture in the alto section. When Jocelyn became ill and eventually departed in the 1970s and Gretta took over the musical leadership of the Marionettes, Susan became her assistant, a role she has maintained for 35 years, in addition to helping with the teaching and accompanying. She is a member of the choir’s Executive Management team.
Assistant Artistic Director / Marketing Manager, The Marionettes Chorale
Photo: Mark Lyndersay
A trained pianist, jazz vocalist, and member of the Marionettes since 1995 (by way of the Youth Chorale), Caroline currently works on various aspects of the Marionettes artistic and production work, including managing their publicity and online marketing, and assisting on everything from stage direction to fundraising proposals and ticket sales. Winner of a Commonwealth Scholarship; Trinidad & Tobago National Scholarship for Languages; and Hutchinson Fellowship for Theatre, Caroline has a Master of Arts degree in Drama & Performance Making from the University of London, Goldsmiths; and an undergraduate degree Performance Studies from Williams College. She has also studied performance (voice, dance and experimental theatre) at the Trinity/La MaMa Experimental Theatre Company’s (E.T.C.) and acting for theatre, film and television at the Lee Strasberg Film & Theatre Institute, both in New York City (USA). In addition to her production work on Carmen, she is also a member of the chorus and fills the speaking role of Lillas Pastia. She is the editor of Discover Trinidad & Tobago magazine, and a contributor to Caribbean Beat, at Media & Editorial Projects Ltd (MEP). She is a member of the Equity perfomers union in the United Kingdom, and of the National Drama Association of Trinidad & Tobago (NDATT). For more, visit her website.
Photo: Mark Lyndersay
Margaret has over 30 years experience in the design and production of costumes for theatre and carnival, specialising in ballet and period costumes. She has worked with most of Trinidad and Tobago’s most celebrated designers, and nearly every local theatrical production company. She is the winner of multiple Cacique awards, including the National Drama Association (NDATT)’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
Celia is among the most sought-after lighting designers in Trinidad & Tobago. She began training in theatrical lighting with Benny Gomes at the Central Bank Auditorium, and since then has also trained with Robert Bryan at the West Yorkshire Playhouse (Leeds, UK), and at the Arena Stage (Washington, DC, USA). As a lighting technician, she has worked with Trinidad Tent Theatre; Central Bank Auditorium; the Kiskidee Karavan; and the Queen’s Hall. As a freelance lighting designer, she has worked extensively with commercial theatre producers; non-profit community groups; NGOs; and with government ministries on everything from full-length plays and musicals/operas, to one-off fundraising events and awards ceremonies, to international tours, including Danse (Wells Theatre, European Tour); and Mary Could Dance and Men Are Dogs (RS/RR Productions, Caribbean Tours). She is a 7-time Cacique Award winner, including awards for the Marionettes’ Tributes (2008); 3canal’s JAM-IT Show (2010); RS/RR Productions’ Mary Could Dance (1998); and Danse (1992), directed by her sister Lesley-Ann. She relishes working on productions with the Marionettes and NDDCI that challenge her to do her best work and to experiment boldly with light and colour on stage.
Artistic Director, NDDCI
Movement & Choreography, Carmen
Noble has been a dancer, teacher, and choreographer for over 50 years. She trained at at the Caribbean School of Dancing; the London College of Dance & Drama and the School of Contemporary Dance in the UK; the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance; and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Centre in the USA, briefly dancing professionally with the prestigious Lar Lubovitch Dance Company. She returned to Trinidad in 1974, performing with the Astor Johnson’s Repertory Dance Theatre and Derek Walcott’s Trinidad Theatre Workshop. In 1977 she was the co-founder, director, choreographer and soloist of the La Chapelle/Douglas Dance Company, and choreographed many sections for Peter Minshall’s lavish Carnival presentations. A founding member of the Patrons of Queen’s Hall, she developed an outreach programme for young people including an annual Theatre Camp for Young People. She later co-founded Lilliput Children’s Theatre (originally called Rounder Children’s Theatre) in 1975 with writer, performer and director Tony Hall. By 1985, Noble established the Noble Douglas Dance Company Inc (NDDCI), utilising the percepts of modern dance applying them to the Caribbean in her choreography. In the late 1980s, Noble also started working as the resident choreographer for Trinidad’s leading choir, The Marionettes Chorale. She has been involved with with the international collaboration Black Burlesque (revisited) with Reggie Wilson’s Fist and Heel Performance Group (New York), and Black Unfolosi (Zimbabwe), which toured the US in 2003. Noble’s awards including the Beryl Mc Bernie Foundation Award and Trinida & Tobago’s Humming Bird Medal (Gold). She also sat on the Trinidad & Tobago National Commission for UNESCO, 2004–2011.
Choreographer – NDDCI
Dave is a choreographer and performer working in Trinidad & Tobago. He is the founder of FirsTTfloor Studios (formerly Standing Room Only) and holds six Cacique Awards for choreography and directing. He has performed in the USA, across the Caribbean and in Europe, and was a member of the founding faculty of the Oakland School for the Arts in California, USA. He has also been a member of the Noble Douglas Dance Company since 1986, and is a resident choreographer for the Marionettes Chorale.
Choreographer – NDDCI
Charlene’s training in dance started at the Caribbean School of Dancing then briefly at the Dance Academy of Trinidad & Tobago before leaving to further her studies at the prestigious Laine Theatre Arts in Epsom Surrey, England. Upon returning home in 1991, she joined NDDCI and started teaching at Lilliput Theatre, shortly after becoming the school’s Rehearsal Director. From 1995, she travelled for 13 years teaching ballet and modern dance on the sister isle for the Tobago Academy of Performing Arts (TAPA) and the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Division of Culture. Charlene also serves as camp manager for the Patrons of Queen’s Hall annual Theatre Camp for young people. As a senior member and coordinator of NDDCI, she has toured and worked internationally with the Black Umfolsi of Zimbabwe and Fist and Heel Performance Group of New York on the tri lateral project Black Burlesque (revisited). In 2002, she opened her own dance school in Palmiste San Fernando, now called Danceworks Dance Studio. She has co-produced Noble ’97 with Dave Williams; produced the company’s 25th anniversary dance season DAM 25 in 2010; and is presently working on producing their upcoming dance season. She is also one of the resident choreographers for the Marionettes, and in 2009 was a judge for the first ever reality TV dance show in Trinidad: bmobile Dance Off.
Vertrelle Cameron Mickens
Musical & Stage Consultant
Dr Vertrelle Cameron-Mickens – a graduate of Fisk University, Peabody Conservatory, Johns Hopkins University – received her Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Kentucky. An IBM Fellow in the Performing Arts, she has performed with orchestras in the United States and Europe. She has performed with the Akron Symphony, Lexington Philharmonic, and Austin Symphony as soloist in Beethoven’s Symphony No 9, Handel’s Messiah, and the Verdi Requiem and recorded with the East-West Orchestra in Leipzig, Germany. She has taught on the music faculties of the University of the Virgin Islands, Kentucky State University, Tennessee State University, Eastern Kentucky University, and as Artistic Director and founder of the Repertory Theatre Company, USVI.
Set Designer – Another Idea Ltd.