Jamel Booth, a 24-year-old graduate from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, made his first directorial debut last Friday.
The Colored Museum by George C. Wolfe, a satirical play about different African-American stereotypes, was presented at the Joseph Caleb Auditorium in Liberty City.
During the reception, guests were provided wine tasting by the Dunns Josephine Hotel and food by Chef Lo of Food Flow Catering.
Booth began taking theatre classes in the 11th grade at the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center, or AHCAC, a facility that fosters artistic abilities in the youth while promoting and sharing the African culture in Liberty City.
When the theatre director at the time passed away from cancer, Booth was allowed to assist and even teach one of the classes. From there, Booth’s directing career began.
“I would just ask Jeff, the replacement theatre director at the time, if I can help and he would say, ‘okay, you can warm them up.’ He would see that I was doing pretty good and just began giving me things to do,” Booth said.
Booth eventually went on to work as a stage manager at his alma mater and production manager at Norland Middle School.
“I wasn’t getting paid to do any of this and my mom didn’t understand why I was doing it,” Booth said. “She would ask, ‘why are you going over there? You’re wasting gas and are there for many hours out of the day when you can go and apply for a job somewhere’, but I wasn’t doing it for the money, I was doing it for the experience.”
The cast had only five weeks to rehearse the play. They practiced Monday through Friday, with occasional nightly Saturday rehearsals up until the day of showing. As a result, the cast received a few standing ovations.
Many of the members of the cast agreed that the play wouldn’t had been successful if not for Booth’s work ethic and perfectionism.
Trittney Huzzie, a 25-year-old singer, dancer and actress who had three different roles in the play, has known Booth since childhood. She owes his abilities to exceed expectations as the reason for the play’s outcome.
“Jamel is very professional, I would know because we’ve worked together since childhood and I’ve seen him grown,” Huzzie said. “During practice he would run us over and over again. But he wasn’t strict. He just wanted the best for us by seeing us do our best.”
Some cast members agreed this experience wasn’t all work and no play.
Brianna Hart, a 23-year-old actress who had two roles the play, says that Booth was able to maintain an air of lightheartedness. She says he also made sure everyone had a chance to add in their own creative angle in some shape or form.
“Jamel is awesome and wasn’t afraid to think outside the box. Because of him, I enjoyed working with the cast,” Hart said. “He made sure everyone meshed well together, especially if you didn’t know one another too well. He also allowed everyone to bring something to the table, making everyone feel accounted for.”
Booth said his experiences lead to success and pushes for aspiring directors to take similar action towards their dreams.
“Take every opportunity available to you. Be a go-getter. If you’re not picked for something, find a way to be present in that situation anyways,” Booth said. “Be more marketable. Learn what you can and do as much as you can so that you can be great.”
He also said that working with children is a great way to begin directing and teaching in magnet programs for secondary education is best because the material is more extensive than basic level drama classes.
Booth currently works as the theatre teacher at Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High School’s theatre magnet program where he teaches all grades.
“I just love working with my kids. They are crazy talented, we have so much lined up,” Booth said. “For the winter we’re working towards a collaborative show which will infuse dance, music, drama, art and will be doing musicals in the spring.”
Booth hopes to continue his career in musical theatre.
The Colored Museum by George C. Wolfe will continue to play at Joseph Calib Auditorium. The next showing dates run from Fri., Oct. 12 through Sun., Oct. 14.