“McBee” Triumphs At American Premiere In Jamaica, Queens In Caribbean American Heritage Month

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now


News Americas, New York, NY, June 26, 2024: Broadway World Award winner David Heron and the cast of Alwin Bully’s “McBee” are celebrating the success of the play’s American premiere, which took place on Sunday, June 23rd, at the Jamaica Performing Arts Center, (JPAC), in Jamaica, Queens, New York.

From left- David Heron, Gerard Joseph and Dianne Dixon in McBee on June 23, 2024 in Jamaica, NYC. (IAN BUDDINGTON image)

 Cast Of McBee on June 23, 2024 in Jamaica, Queens, NY. (Ian Buddington image)

The play, produced and directed by Heron, was presented as a one-night-only staged reading in tribute to its playwright, the late Alwin Bully, and as a special cultural event celebrating New York City’s annual Caribbean American Heritage Month festivities.

Luke Forbes, Denise Hunt and Gerard Joseph in McBee. (Ian Buddington image)

A large and enthusiastic audience filled JPAC for the first-ever performance of Bully’s play on American soil, culminating in a standing ovation that lasted several minutes. The star-studded cast was led by Amazon Prime “Harlem” star Luke Forbes and “How Stella Got Her Groove Back” actress Denise Hunt. They were joined by Jerry Benzwick, Lincoln Brown, Dianne Dixon, Emilio Evans, Gerard Joseph, Miranda Melhado, Mitzie Pratt, and James Duke Walker.

Lincoln Brown and Denise Hunt in McBee. (Ian Buddington image)

Producer-director Heron, who won the 2023 Broadway World Award for Best Supporting Performer for his role as Caliban in The Colonial Theatre of Rhode Island’s “The Tempest,” joined the cast as a last-minute replacement for an actor who withdrew days before the production.

Mitzie Pratt and James Duke Walker in McBee. (Ian Buddington image)

The performance was preceded by a Caribbean Cuisine Reception in collaboration with Golden Krust Restaurant, and free tea sampling by sponsors Kendel Instant Ginger Teas.

Dianne Dixon and Jerry Benzwick in McBee. (Ian Buddington image)

Anita Bully, the widow of the late Dominica-born playwright Alwin Bully, welcomed the audience with a brief onstage address, accompanied by their son Brent. She explained that for her late husband’s, “McBee” was not just an adaptation, but an extension of Shakespeare’s original “Macbeth.”

Jerry Benzwick and Miranda Melhadoin McBee. (Ian Buddington image)

“It is a retelling and reworking in much the same manner that Shakespeare handled the original story from Holinshed’s Chronicles,” she said. “Alwin did not try to rewrite Shakespeare’s poetry. His intention was to give the story a Caribbean immediacy while maintaining the original intent.”

Anita Bully also spoke about the recently formed Alwin Bully Foundation, which aims to continue his vision of providing training for promising young individuals in the visual and performing arts.

Heron shared his experience of being mentored by Bully, recounting how the first two plays he wrote – “Ecstasy” and “Intermission” – were developed and prepared for production through a staged reading process led by Bully and his theatre company, The Company Limited, in Jamaica in the 1990s.

“Thanks largely to Alwin’s vision, new playwrights had the opportunity to have their work showcased and chosen for a staged reading presentation produced by The Company Limited, with a professional cast and director,” he said. “I owe much of my early success as a playwright to Alwin, who spent many hours motivating and guiding me as I honed the scripts.”

“McBee” follows the story of Caribbean political power couple Allan and Alice McBee (played by Luke Forbes and Denise Hunt). After Allan receives a prophecy from three Rastafarians that he is destined to become the nation’s Prime Minister, he and his wife devise a bloody plan to make it a reality, with explosive consequences for themselves and their country.

Heron described Sunday night’s performance as “The second coming of McBee,” expressing hope that the play will find its way into the right hands for a fully mounted production. “There is simply nothing else out there quite like it, and it deserves to be seen as far and wide as possible,” he stated.

Other sponsors of Sunday night’s premiere event included The True Tribute Organization, IMC Media, and Results Promo and Marketing.

Save 50.0% on select products from HCYJkluc with promo code 50MBLHAJ, through 7/14 while supplies last.