New musical spotlights Caribbean experience


A report by Alexandra Simon for Caribbean Life News

The Caribbean American immigrant experience comes forth in a new musical highlighting some common themes of the Diaspora. “Welcome to America: A Caribbean Musical,” is a musical about one undocumented immigrant attempting to find her dreams and learning some life lessons along the way.

As the first ever musical production for Braata Productions, the musical’s creator, Karl O’Brian Williams said it was a matter of time before they decided to go forth with one. And the idea for the musical’s theme was inspired by the anti-immigrant drivel, which is still a highly discussed subject since the presidential election.

“We have been wanting to do a musical for some time now and what really triggered this and the theme was after the election,” said Williams. “I was thinking ‘What should the musical be about?’ and I thought ‘Why not do something about our people, and specifically people from the Caribbean?”

In his musical, we learn of Sabrina Barnes, a young Jamaican woman who overstayed her visa in the states and decided to embark on her dreams in theater. But she was eventually sidelined by life itself, said the show’s writer and creator.

“Sabrina is a girl with big dreams to perform on Broadway but she is a little naive,” said Karl O’Brian Williams. “She realizes it’s not the honeymoon she thinks and encounters this idea of what it means to be an adult in New York City and her expectations thwarted.”

The hour and a half musical consists of a cast of 13, and features some original and reworked songs.

He said that many Caribbean immigrants can identify with Sabrina and the type of issues she gets confronted with. But he also felt that non-immigrants will enjoy what the story had to offer and that the show was also meant to act as a guide to understanding the issues immigrants face.

“The people like to know waht part of the fabric of society we are and we must ensure them of our voices that we are visible,” said Williams. “If you are from the Caribbean, or attached to anyone from the Caribbean, you should come to hear and learn about a set of people living in this society for decades. We are the fabric, and there are generations of us going back, but somehow we’re still a mystery.”

Williams said Sabrina’s life in the musical also explores the upbringing of many people of Caribbean background striving to succeed for their family’s approval, but also struggling with its negative effects.

“She learns a lot including that life is a journey and a hard pill to swallow,” he said. “Many of us feel pressure from families and friends, and although it’s not a bad thing, it does have its downside when we are unable to meet their expectatio­ns.”

Welcome to America: A Caribbean Musical at Milton Bassin Performing Arts Center [94-95 Guy R. Brewer Blvd. between Liberty and Archer avenues in Jamaica, (718) 262-5375]. April 20–22 at 8 pm, April 23 at 6 pm.

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