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Minshall mesmerises Savannah stage
Persistence and dedication paid off for two veteran masqueraders who secured victory in this year’s Carnival King and Queen competition following years of unsuccessful forays in the annual contest.
Earl Thompson and Roxanne Omalo improved on their fifth and seventh place results in the preliminary round of the competition, as they dazzled both the judges and the modest audience and outshone their 18 competitors at the Dimanche Gras show at the Queen’s Park Savannah on Sunday night.
Thompson, whose costume “Death and The Maiden The Fancy King Sailor Play Pegasus” was designed by acclaimed designer Peter Minshall, was crowd favourite as he utilised his theatre experience to animate the costume.
Minshall’s interpretation of the Greek mythical creature was an intricately designed black stallion with hand painted wings which featured a dancing skeleton and a semi-nude masquerader.
Thompson slowly trod on stage with a pre-recorded introduction voiced by Minshall and performed to a pan rendition of Bach’s eerie Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, played Republic Bank Exodus Steel Orchestra, the band he will perform with on Carnival Monday and Tuesday.
The costume was Minshall’s first since 2016 when his moko jumbie and ballet-themed costume—The Dying Swan, Ras Nijinsky in Drag as Pavlova—failed to win despite receiving widespread acclaim. In an interview after being crowned Thompson said he was able to improve his performance through first-hand demonstrations from Minshall, whose Callaloo Company he has been a member of for almost 27 years.
“It (preliminary performance) was me not understanding the costume and what it was meant to do. Over the past few days, I was well schooled and taught how to do it by Peter. He demonstrated to what to do and how to do it,” Thompson said. Thompson said the performance was assisted by Minshall’s deceptively simple design.
“A costume designed by Minshall is literally one that you would die to want to wear because of its balance and the thinking behind it,” Thompson said.
Thompson’s only narrowly beat defending monarch Ted Eustace, who came second.
The 30-foot tall costume “Dos Bandditos”, comprised of two sombrero-wearing skeletons riding two menacing skeletal dragons, which Eustace controlled mechanically.
Eustace’s brother Curtis missed out on a record tenth win in the competition as his costume “Kamatachi- D Chinese Demon Butterfly” failed to make the top three despite topping the preliminary round.
The older Eustace appeared to suffer a costume malfunction as one of the wings of his monstrous colourful butterfly appeared to be fractured when being set up backstage. Ravi Lakhan and South King of Carnival Marlon Rampersad tied for third place.
Rampersad’s mother Gloria Dallsingh, who also won the South Queen of Carnival, tied for second place in the Queens competition with last year’s winner Krystal Thomas.
However, they were no match for Roxanne Omalo, whose costume “Lilith-Mistress of the Eternally Dammed” was easily the largest in the competition.
Her costume, designed by Varma Lakhan, featured a crimson and black skeletal figure carrying a scythe, being led by a pair of demonic figures that released fireworks as she performed before the judges.
Despite its size, Omalo, a perennial finalist who never won, was able to effortlessly manoeuver the costume across the stage while dancing freely compared to other competitors who carefully negotiated the props positioned for the Calypso Monarch competition.
“I just had to know how to control the costume on stage because in the preliminaries the stage is free. I guess because of my expertise I knew when to turn and how to execute it and here we are tonight,” Omalo said.
Omalo almost did not make it to the final following a mishap with the costume earlier this week.
“This year we started off very rocky because the costume broke on the morning of the preliminaries, so we had to go back to the drawing board,” Omalo said.
She went on: “I was in position 10 so I knew whoever was before me, I had to close the show with a bang and I did it.”
Omalo, who has participated consistently over the past eight years, said the victory was a dream come through as she predicted that she would gain her first crown before she made decade in the competition.
1. Earl Thompson - Death And The Maiden The Fancy King Sailor Play Pegasus
2. Ted Eustace - Dos Bandditos
3. Ravi Lakhan -Balrog “Bringer Of The Apocalypse” and Marlon
Rampersad - d Midas Touch
1. Roxanne Omalo -Lilith-Mistress of the Eternally Dammed
2. Krystal Thomas - De Head Huntress
and Gloria Dallsingh - Gem Of The Ocean
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