With a price tag of $2 million, the National Carnival Commission (NCC) promised an “epic” Dimanche Gras production.
Producer Davlin Thomas, who is also NCCs deputy chair, gave the show an exotic title and superlatives of “everything that is beautiful”, “richness, colour and vibrancy of our people” etc.
Instead, we got an impulsive, dimly-lit show without a theme and that would have made infamous lip sync artistes Milli Vanili blush with embarrassment.
Treasured artiste Calypso Rose and other stars of the season were made to mime over their recorded works, as if they were headlining a cheap and tacky fete.
There wasn’t even the basic offering of a back-up music band.
So, patrons who paid top dollar and, in some cases, brought excited visiting guests, heard tepid versions of the hits of Nadia Batson, Farmer Nappy, Nailah Blackman, Patrice Roberts and other artistes.
The fans would have enjoyed much more robust and appealing performances at any prior Carnival event and certainly at the concerts of Machel Montano and Kes.
The show rambled without rhyme or reason, purpose or point.
There was none of the pageantry or choreography that was to be expected of the premier pre-Carnival event, staged at the mecca of the national festival.
Thomas had promised a “theatrical” production and to “lift the bar”.
“The public will be enthralled,” he gushed.
To be fair, there was a mas portrayal backdrop, but this was devoured in the challenge of the oversized Savannah stage, poor lighting and lazy production.
The event was a downer to those who confidently expected a modern, quality production and who would have been captivated by such glitzy, fast-paced and distinctive shows as the recently-held Oscars.
The inept hosting of the event was matched only by the ham-fisted television commentary.
This was a huge step-down from the era of confident and respected hosts mastering the stage or providing vibrant and colourful television observations.
But, not missing a beat, the line Government Minister rushed to hail the production.
Soon, NCC’s boss Winston “Gypsy” Peters would likely add to the chorus of praise.
They are both vivid examples of the Peter Principle.
More than that, the Dimanche Gras show is yet another symbol of our waning national standards in what some are insisting is a failing State.
The show was a crushing disappointment in a land that has tossed up Minshall, Bailey, Berkeley, Hart, Lee Heung and other supreme artistes and producers.
Minshall, you’d recall, produced no less than the opening extravaganza of the 1996 Olympic opening ceremony.
But Carnival is bacchanal and, therefore, there will be no critical review of Dimanche Gras.
Next year, another producer will promise a show that is memorable, riveting, thrilling…