Teatro Jacó, a new Costa Rica-based theatrical production company, is currently presenting its inaugural show in the Central Pacific beach town of Jacó. “Jamaica Farewell,” an award-winning, one-woman autobiographical show written and performed by Jamaican Debra Ehrhardt, opened Jan. 27 in the Sacagomas Bar at Jacó’s Canciones del Mar Hotel. Teatro Jacó will be using this small rooftop theater until construction is completed on Jacó’s new Ocean Center cultural facility.
The new theater company is the brainchild of U.S. theater veteran Darren Lee Cole of the off-Broadway SoHo Playhouse in New York City. A lifelong body surfer, Cole first came to Jacó in 2002 and now divides his time between New York and Costa Rica. He has produced all over the world and worked in every aspect of theater, in both technical and administrative areas and as an actor, director and general manager, for 30 years.
Cole had often talked about the need for culture in the Central Pacific with Pat Hundley of Jacó’s DayStar Properties and Canciones del Mar owner Peter van Hussen. With the construction of DayStar’s Ocean Center with its 150-seat theater, their vision will soon come to fruition.
“We want to bring the world of entertainment to the central Pacific coast and explore Costa Rica’s rich history of storytelling, masquerades and music, as well as hosting internationally acclaimed productions,” Cole said.
Cole wanted Teatro Jacó’s first presentation to be an internationally acclaimed production, and “Jamaica Farewell” certainly fits the bill. After a successful off-Broadway run at the SoHo Playhouse in 2008, Ehrhardt toured the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and the Caribbean with her critically acclaimed play, which she is presently adapting for the big screen.
Based on Ehrhardt’s life story, the play takes the audience on a riveting journey in which Ehrhardt flees revolution-torn Jamaica in the 1970s to fulfill her dream of starting a new life in the U.S. With the unwitting help of an infatuated CIA agent, our heroine risks death and imprisonment in an attempt to succeed in a daring plan.
Cole first met Ehrhardt while serving as a judge for the New York International Fringe Festival. He fell in love with her show and contracted her to perform at the SoHo Playhouse.
“This time was different,” he said, regarding how he got Ehrhardt to open for Teatro Jacó. “I called her and told her, ‘I have no theater, lights or equipment, just a third-floor bar overlooking the ocean. Do you want to do your show?’
“‘I’m on my way,’ she replied.”
Now, thanks to Cole’s determination and many willing hands, including van Hussen and his hotel staff, the talented Ehrhardt is performing her show in an open-air venue with the sound of waves in the background. She weaves a fantastic story full of suspense, exuberant humor, panache, pathos and fascinating, believable characters. Don’t miss her captivating, memorable performance in this outstanding piece of theater.
“Jamaica Farewell” runs through this Sunday at Canciones del Mar. Tickets cost $20 for the show only, or $45 for dinner and the show. The bar opens at 6 p.m., dinner is served at 6:30, and the performance starts at 7:30. For reservations, call 2643-3272.
Cole said future plans for Teatro Jacó include establishing performing arts programs in local schools, as well as a community theater group to tour the country with original shows. He said the group wants to build relationships in the artistic community and expand its audience by producing bilingual shows and performing on alternate nights or weekends. Although he is not yet sure what Teatro Jacó’s next show will be, Cole said he hopes it will be in English and Spanish.
For information about Teatro Jacó, visit www.teatrojaco.com.