The new ‘Sugar Bum Bum’

"SHEILA, yuh backside calling me....." THE words reflect the swing and sway of Quweina Roberts, who portrays Sheila, one of the main characters in the new musical production "Brand New Lucky Diamond Horseshoe Club."

Sheila’s character is locally known as a jamette, who goes to work at the Club with her aunt, but is not content to continue helping out at the club. Instead she seeks love and compassion. She meets Delilah a transvestite, and a romance develops.

Quweina says Sheila is "almost everything like me, except for the jamette, I am a bit conservative. We have the physical appearance, figure and the spiritual side."

The 23-year-old daughter of the late veteran calypsonian, Lord Kitchener (Aldwyn Roberts), says her involvement with the production began in 2004 where the six weeks of rehearsals for performances at the Indiana State University made her feel like a "freshman among the graduates."

She got a call one night from Professor Dr Dawn Batson, who teaches at Florida Memorial University, Miami, where she (Quweina) attends, enquiring if she was interested.

With no acting credits to her name, except for minor performances at school plays at Newtown Girls’ RC and Barataria Senior Comprehensive, Quweina accepted the challenge and was almost immediately contacted by Tony Hall, who wrote the play. A day later she was singing on the phone to calypsonian David Rudder, one of the producers.

"The next thing I got an e-mailed contract and days later I was in Indiana among seasoned actors."

Quweina who is fondly called "Q," says the actors were all from the university. She recalled that the cast was 75 percent white, without a clue about "our culture, but working with them was a culture shock."

She worked tirelessly with Hall and when the production opened to audiences, "It was tremendous. I didn’t know I had it in me. It was a joy working with Tony and David. I worked with David before and he is really cool."

She also sang in the production, and left contented never expecting a call back. "Q" resumed her studies in Miami where she was pursuing her first degree in Business Administration and Hospitality, with a minor in Human Resource Management.

Late last year she was again contacted to play the role Sheila once more because the production was coming to Trinidad. It will be her debut performance in TT. The play runs at Queen’s Hall from February 8 to 24, and Quweina says she has been here since December for rehearsals.

She is uncertain what transpired, since two other persons were short-listed to be Sheila, but was honoured to be back again.

"I am still trying to figure out if it’s because of who I am, Kitchener’s daughter, or because of my talent. But either way it’s good publicity."

She is now content to study via the Internet in between the hectic everyday rehearsals, and is eagerly anticipating opening night. She plans to return to Miami before Carnival.

"You should see my dress for the show. Wow! It’s an eyesore."

Quweina is also in the studio with Rudder as work continues on the soundtrack for the production which has over 20 songs. She is singing at least two of the tracks — "Cockroach Blues" and "Sheila I’m You."

She believes that the production will "revolutionise the state of theatre in Trinidad. It’s a fantastic piece. A must see piece."

The humble young woman who accepts that she might always be living in the shadow of her father, says she wants to make it on her own talents.

She has her singing abilities which she uses to earn extra money in Miami.

"I love to sing. I love to perform. I sing anything, R&B, soca, calypso, reggae. And I perform for free."

Quweina first started singing with the band Rhythm Nation in Miami, which comprised mainly Jamaicans. They did gigs everywhere and sometimes "we didn’t even make money."

She said initially no one knew she was Kitchener’s only daughter, but later word got around and people were impressed. She now has a steady back-up chorus role for Glen Washington and performs lead vocals with bands like "Impact" and "Code Red" in Miami.

Having moved to her own apartment in May last year, Quweina is enjoying the independence and besides singing and studying, also holds down the job of Flight Simulator Lab Monitor at school and is a licenced bartender.

"I have already developed two drinks — ‘What’s you may call it’ which does wonders and the ingredients are secret, and ‘Sugar Bum Bum’ which has Malibu as the main ingredient."

Quweina will graduate in the summer after four years of study, but plans to return to Trinidad "after I complete my Masters in Tourism Studies."

She wants to assist in sustainable tourism development in TT and would love being an ambassador working with Government on a diplomatic level.


"The new ‘Sugar Bum Bum’"

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