By: RT

The Actor Boy Awards celebrates achievements in both the creative and technical areas of the Jamaican theatre, allocating awards for costuming, choreography and lighting as well as the most sought after awards acting and best production.

This prestigious event hosted by the Jamaican chapter of the International Theater Institute will be held in its new home, The Pantry Theatre Gardens, New Kingston on Tuesday, March 25, 2008.

Oliver Samuels is among the select few in Jamaican theatre to be rewarded with the national honour of Order of Distinction for his work in theatre. The Hon. Louise Bennett- Coverley inspired him, to see what the theatre mecca of Kingston had to offer. The first thing he saw was an advertisement in the newspaper, inviting people to audition for Jamaica’s new theatre school, which was ran at the time by the Little Theatre Movement. After a successful audition, he became a member of the theatre school, and in the 1970s, he made the move to join the theatre community officially. Since then Oliver Samuels has achieved a lot for himself and Jamaica. Oliver is now one of the greatest comedic actors coming out of Jamaica.

Oliver Samuels was born November 4, 1948 in Tremolesworth, St Mary, received what he would describe as his “theatrical baptism” during Friday and Saturday night ‘yard’ concerts in his hometown. These concert provided opportunities for adults to entertain themselves with songs, poem and stories, while children participated in ring games such as “Moonshine Darling” a past- time, which if Oliver is any example, appeared capable of honing impressive theatrical skills.

Samuels who is one of Jamaican Theatre’s foremost icon, is known as the king of laughter. His first appearance on television was actually overseas when he appeared in “The Fight against Slavery” a BBC television production in 1974, only four years after his journey from St Mary to Kingston. This opened doors for Samuels in the television world, and in the mid 1980s, he appeared in another BBC television production “My Father Son-Son Johnson” and also made another BBC-TV appearance in 1994 appearing as Gareth’s Father in two episodes of the production “Chef”. “Brother and Sister” followed this in 1998 in which he appeared in three episodes. Samuels has been bringing laughter to the face of Jamaican’s at home and abroad for almost four decades. He has starred in several plays, Oliver and Pinocchio, Oliver’s Posse, Oliver and the Genie, Breadfruit Kingdom, The Town That Time Forgot and some of the most recent, Patrick Brown River Bottom, and Cutie and the Freak. Oliver has also been in numerous films including “The Mighty Quinn staring Denzel Washington” and “Almost Heaven”.

Oliver Samuels could be said to have come fully into his own in terms of his small screen appearances in the late 1980 to 1990s. Some of these television productions are;

· “Great Moments in Aviation”, for which the US Video Title was “Shades of Fear”.

· “Oliver” and “Oliver at Large”- the two TV series in which he appeared as himself and ‘Sarge in Charge”, in which he played the lead role.

· “Going to Extremes”-the Lorimar TV series in which he played the role of Winston.

· And in the local television series “Royal Palm Estates” and “Traxx”- appearing in both in the roll of Son-Son.

Samuels was for many years, known as ‘Mr Pantomime’- performing lead roles in LTM Pantomimes such as ‘Music Boy’, ‘Dickance for Fippance’,

‘The Witch’ and several others. He worked with most of Jamaica’s top writers, producers, and directors in production such as:

· Trevor Rhone’s “School Out”

· Carter Gambrill’s “All that Glitters”

· The National Theatre Trust’s “School for Scandal”

· Ed Wallace Production showing of Pat Cumper’s “The Rapest”

· The Company Limited production of Derrick Walcott’s “Pantomime” for which he shared the Best Actor award with Tony Hendricks.

Funny he is, but this man does not take his career as a joke. Along with the 1980s television series and overseas-based producers such as We Are One Theatre Company of Canada for whom he did two major productions –Neil Simon’s “Old Couple” and Mustapha Playboy of the West Indies, “Oliver at Large” cemented him in the nation attention.


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