Les Misérables Production Team
From left: Assistant Musical Director Roger Henry; Assistant Production Manager Jacqueline Smith; Artistic & Musical Director Gretta Taylor; Production Manager Joanne Mendes; and Assistant Artistic Director Caroline Taylor. Photo: Mark Lyndersay
Musical Director & Conductor, Les Mis
Artistic & Musical Director / Conductor, The Marionettes Chorale
Gretta Francis Taylor (MA, DipEd, HBM Gold) has led the Marionettes since 1974 as Artistic & Musical Director and conductor. A graduate of the University of Toronto, she has completed several courses in choral conducting in Britain and has been attending American Choral Directors’ Association conventions for nearly 25 years. As a pianist, she won the Norah Grant Trophy and Trinidad Guardian Cup several times at the T&T Music Festival, often with friend and colleague Susan Dore. As a teacher at St. Joseph’s Convent (Port of Spain), she taught Languages and directed the school’s choirs for 13 years, leading the young singers to win top solo, ensemble and choral championships in the Music Festival (including the Prime Minister’s Trophy for Most Outstanding Junior Choir, among others). 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. In her 40 years as musical director of the Marionettes adult, Youth and Children’s choirs, the groups have tackled with great success major works never before performed in the Caribbean, as well as acclaimed productions of Carmen (which she co-directed with daughter Caroline), and now Les Mis. After the Marionettes retired unbeaten from the T&T Musical Festival, Gretta led the adult choir on several international tours, winning four major prizes from three international choral festivals. Taylor’s philosophy has been one that challenges the choirs to master both local and international music, and her rigorous choral training and high professional standards have made the Marionettes one of the most respected performing groups in the region. She received the Humming Bird Medal (Gold) in 1990 for her outstanding services to music and culture in Trinidad & Tobago. “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.”
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.
Stage Director, Les Mis
Assistant Artistic Director, The Marionettes Chorale
Caroline has grown up in the Marionettes, having sung with them for the first time in 1992 as part of a concert with the St. Monica’s Preparatory School choir, before becoming a founder member of the Marionettes Youth Chorale in 1995, and joining the adult choir in 1998. She has worked as an actor, writer, editor, director, and producer in publishing, theatre, film and television for over a decade. She now works on various aspects of the Marionettes’ artistic and production work, including directing Les Misérables and co-directing Carmen (2011). Winner of both a National Scholarship and a Commonwealth Scholarship, she has a BA in Performance Studies from Williams College and an MA in Theatre & Performance from the University of London (Goldsmiths), and also studied at the Lee Strasberg Film & Theatre Institute and Trinity/La MaMa Experimental Theatre Company in New York. Stage credits with Williamstheatre (MA, USA) include the title role in Euripides’ Medea, as well as Euripides’ The Bacchae, Chekhov’s The Seagull, and Stacy Cochran’s Prostitutes. Stage credits in Trinidad and the UK include Tony Hall/David Rudder’s Brand New Lucky Diamond Horseshoe Club; 3canal’s SHINE; Geraldine Connor’s Carnival Messiah; as well as Richard Ragoobarsingh’s Scandal and Lotto Madness, The Prime Minister’s Speech, Girls on the Side, Why Did I Get Married?, Party Done, and Theresa Awai’s Coming Home. Her solo show Pack Light also played at the New York International Fringe Festival. She recently made her screen debut in A Story About Wendy 2 and features in the upcoming TV series The Apartment. Outside of the performing arts, Caroline works at MEP Publishers on book and magazine projects, including Caribbean Beat and Discover Trinidad & Tobago. Website: carolinetaylor.info
Roger J. Henry
Orchestra Rehearsal Director, Les Mis
Assistant Musical Director / Conductor, The Marionettes Chorale
Dr. Roger J. Henry is a conductor, educator, andcomposer, currently serving as Assistant Professor of Music and Programme Leader for the Academy for the Performing Arts at The University of Trinidad and Tobago. In addition to his University work he continues to maintain a national profile in the Music community of Trinidad and Tobago, as Assistant Musical Director for the Marionettes Chorale, and as the Artistic Director and Conductor of the National Philharmonic Orchestra of Trinidad and Tobago. Dr. Henry holds a Doctor of Music degree in Choral Conducting from the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, Bloomington, where he graduated with minors in Voice and Music History & Literature. In a career spanning more than 25 years, Dr. Henry has served in faculty roles at both the secondary and tertiary levels, and has developed a reputation as a gifted and skillful educator. He has pursued musical excellence across a spectrum of contexts: in academia as well as in church, community, and professional music organisations. For the biennial Music Festival of the Trinidad and Tobago Music Festival Association in 2012, he and Richard Tang Yuk made history as the first local adjudicators to be invited to judge beyond the preliminary rounds. In 2013 Dr. Henry made his debut as a composer of choral music with the premiere of his composition, There Was a Man Sent From God, sung by the Marionettes. Dr. Henry is an advocate for music — for its power to encode, embody, and interpret human experience in the form of sound. He is committed to the enrichment of the musical life of Trinidad and Tobago, the education and artistic fulfillment of the country’s musicians, and the exploration of new avenues for musical creation.
Assistant Production Manager, The Marionettes Chorale
Jacqueline began singing seriously as a member of the St. Francois champion choir under Laura Franklin, and has been a member of the Marionettes for over 20 years. At the T&T Music Festival, she has won the Mayor’s Cup for Best Adult Solo (1999 & 2002); the Gatcliffe Cup for Best Oratorio (2002 & 2004); the ffrench Trophy for Most Outstanding Performer (1999); and the Jean Abdool Memorial Trophy for Most Outstanding Vocalist (2002). In addition to music, Jacqueline was a dancer with the Astor Johnson’s Repertory Dance Theatre (1983–1987), where she was exposed to folk, contemporary and jazz styles; and performed in Limin’ by Godfrey Sealey, and The Mall Story.
Arielle Rostant (front left) and Soo Mahabir (front right) with the stage crew. Photo: Elliot Francois
Stage Manager, The Marionettes Chorale
A recent graduate of Ryerson University, Toronto, with an honors BFA degree in Production Design, this is Arielle’s fourth (and sixth!) show stage managing the Marionettes Chorale. She, however is no stranger to this organisation as before this she was a member of the youth and senior chorales for a total of 10 years and she worked as Props Mistress for the choir’s 2011 production of Carmen. In the years that she has been back home, Arielle has also stage managed for other local organisations such as the University of Trinidad & Tobago, the Classical Music Development Foundation of Trinidad and Tobago, and the Tall Man Foundation. While in Canada she worked on many shows including acting, dance and musicals, in positions such as Stage Manager, Assistant Stage Manager, Carpenter, Props Mistress, and Costume and Set Designer. Arielle owes a lot to the Marionettes and is so happy that she has been given the opportunity to take up a larger role in the organisation.
Margaret Sheppard (left), Randy Halfhide (centre) and Noble Douglas (right). Photo: Elliot Francois
Margaret has been involved in the designing and making of costumes for film, theatre, and carnival for over 30 years. She has worked closely with most of Trinidad’s celebrated designers, particularly with Lil Hart and Wayne Berkeley, and with nearly every local theatrical company. She has also been closely associated with Caribbean School of Dancing, Lilliput Children’s Theatre, Noble Douglas Dance Co. Inc and The Marionettes Chorale. Her most recent accomplishments include designing costumes for Carmen, The Magic Flute, Dido and Aeneas, and, with Ronald Guy James, The King and I. She is the winner of multiple Cacique awards and The National Drama Association of Trinidad and Tobago’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
Randal has been designing stage sets since his early primary school days and recalls one of this first layouts was done for a Sunday School Christmas production at Greyfriars Church Hall, where the Marionettes held their rehearsals until it was demolished in 2014. He has gained much of his stagecraft expertise working under the late Wayne Berkeley, and has been influenced by local icons Carlisle Chang and Peter Minshall. Over the years he has created stage sets for the Marionettes Chorale Christmas and mid-year shows, including the staging of Carmen in 2011. His most recent achievements has been designing sets for First Instinct’s Productions of The King and I (2013), and Jesus Christ Superstar (2014). His design skill is complimented by a team of master craftsmen and crew who build and bend, to bring his vision to reality. He says: “Our aim is to enhance the presentation and help you imagine there is another space, place and time…” He is the owner/director of Another Idea Ltd., one of the nations oldest event planning and corporate support organisations.
Some of the Marionettes Les Mis production and creative team
Movement & Choreography, Les Mis
Artistic Director, NDDCI
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.
Movement & Choreography, Les Mis
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.
Some of the Marionettes Les Miserables production team, cast and crew
Celia 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.
[One day, we hope to inveigle Frankie to send in a bio…]