Lord Invader's socio-economic observances of the interaction between American soldiers who were here during World War II and Trinidadians in his calypso, "Rum And Coca Cola" have always been misinterpreted as a humorous ditty. This misnomer was elevated when the Andrews did their cover version of the song in 1944 and the pretty young women performed it with beaming smiles and dancing saucily.
The more ominous aspects of the song's storyline are addressed in the forthcoming musical titled, Rum and Coca Cola opening on August 16 at the CLR James Auditorium, Cipriani College of Labour and Cooperative Studies, Valsayn. The production being presented by Scarlett Project runs from this weekend to August 19.
Rum and Coca Cola the musical was written by Mustapha Matura in 1976 and is one of his original productions as he is also known for adapting plays into a Caribbean experience. The musical tells the story of Professor, a calypso king whose age has encroached on his abilities. Surviving by singing on a beach for tourists, he befriends a young petty criminal named Slim, who becomes his protégé.
Cramped between a cumbersome past and the aspirations that he harbours for Slim, Professor teaches songwriting to the young man in the hope that eventually they will eventually write a song meriting the title of calypso king. As the two try to work together they experience several challenges, having issues with each other, finding ways to afford eating daily and having to deal with how people look at them.
The musical stars Llewellyn "Short Pants" MacIntosh as Professor and Conrad Parris as Slim. MacIntosh has been singing in the calypso tents for over thirty years. He began his calypso singing career at the Calypso Theatre in 1975. He was at the Regal in 1977 at the Revue in 1978 and 1979 and at the Masters' Den during the years 1980 to 1987. After the Den closed, Short Pants sang with Spektakuka Forum in 1990 and together with some of his friends managed the Vintage Calypso Tent which operated for just one year; 1991.
MacIntosh is well known for the strong lyrical content of his calypsos and for his extempore singing. He has been a regular finalist in the National Extempo Competition and in various Independence Calypso competitions. He has been a national finalist twice; in 1979 and in 1993. MacIntosh has been, as well, a regular performer with the Talk Tent where he recites his calypsos in a new genre that is called Talkalypso. Short Pants has won the Talkalypso Competition on three occasions. He is the current champion.
This year marks Parris' seventeenth year as a theatre practitioner. He got his start with Trinidad Theatre Workshop's New Actor's Workshop in 1995, debuting in their production of Ntozake Shange's For Colored Girls Who Considered Suicide/ When The Rainbow Is Enuf. He continued work with TTW in their Theatre-in-Education programme, which was geared towards secondary school students' appreciation of English Literature.
Parris also performed with Arts-In-Action, a group dedicated to tackling social issues via theatre and mediation. He has also lent his talent to Necessary Arts on several occasions. Theatrically, Parris has appeared on stage in numerous guises; as Caliban in William Shakespeare's The Tempest; as Jesus Costazuela in Neil Simon's The Odd Couple Female Version; as Professor Max Reinhardt in Davlin Thomas' Lear Ananci; as Winston Marshall in Derek Walcott's Steel; and as Delilah, in Tony Hall's and David Rudder's Brand New Lucky Diamond Horseshoe Club, just to name a few. He was last seen on stage in the RCKP's hit comedy, How It Hang, It Swing, and the family drama, Coming Home.
Also working in television and radio, Conrad originated the role of Paul Campbell in the local soap opera Westwood Park, and has voiced several radio advertisements, and appeared in many television commercials over the years. He also produced and presented the community current affairs programme Dot Com for Gayelle the Channel. The Ghost of Hing King Estate marked his feature film debut, which he followed with the UWI Film class' short film, Sans Souci. He also appeared in the Ryan Khan-directed short film The MidNite Affair, and Purple, a short helmed by Christopher Dinchong, as well the feature-length horror film, 3 Line — also directed by Dinchong.
Matura was born in Trinidad in 1939 and is a playwright living in London. In 1971 his play As Time Goes By was first performed at the Traverse Theatre Club in Edinburgh and the Theatre Upstairs at the Royal Court Theatre, with a cast of noted Caribbean actors including Stefan Kalipha, Alfred Fagon, Mona Hammond and Corinne Skinner-Carter.
His production, Play Mas was first performed at the Royal Court Theatre in 1974. In 1974 Matura received the Evening Standard's Most Promising Playwright Award. Among his subsequent plays are Rum and Coca Cola (1976), Independence (1979), and The Coup (1991).
His work for television includes the British Channel 4 sitcom titled No Problem! written by him alongside Farrukh Dhondy, and Black Silk for the BBC, which he created in collaboration with Rudy Narayan. Matura is married to Ingrid Selberg, daughter of famed Norwegian mathematician Atle Selberg.
The schedule for Rum and Coca Cola is as follows: August 16 at 7:30pm, Friday August 17 at 8:30pm, Saturday August 18 at 8:30pm, Sunday August 19 at 2pm and 6:30pm.