Barbados Holders Performing Arts Festival Brings Jazz, Shakespeare, and More to Its 17th Year

Barbados Holders Performing Arts Festival Brings Jazz, Shakespeare, and More to Its 17th Year

Wendy Kidd, soft-spoken doyenne and gracious hostess of Barbados’ Holders Season, scaled back her season of arts offerings beneath the stars this year. What’s not scaled back in the boutique arts festival are quality and the key to the magic of Holders: unexpected discoveries of amazing artists.

Barbados Holders Season

A tribute to the arts: Barbados' Holders Season 2010

Remaining performances this season:

A Letter From Australia,” with novelist Kathy Lette (Monday, March 22)

The music and tales of a stage and screen phenomenon, “A Tribute to Bing Crosby” (Wednesday, March 24)

Jazz Double bill: Ian Shaw and Liane Carroll, who “swings like hell one minute and is brutally heart-breaking and expressive the next.” (Friday, March 26)

Gala Final Night with UK R&B star Mica Paris and the hilarious Kit and the Widow (Saturday, March 27)

Tickets and more information: call 246-432-6385 or e-mail or visit

Last night I told Holders executive director Stewart Collins that Greg and I purchase tickets to every performance each year because we so enjoy the glorious open-air setting (where we picnic and drink champagne before the performance begins) and because we never know for sure what we’re in for but are inevitably surprised and delighted.

Last evening was the third of the seven performances in “Little Theatre” on Wendy’s west coast property. Each night we’ve come home so exhilarated by what we’ve witnessed that we’re up long past our bedtimes filled with energy, talking about the productions, looking up on the Internet the artists we just saw, and generally reliving the sparkling evening we’ve just been fortunate enough to enjoy.

Barbados' Holders Season 2010 featured movie author Clive Hirschhorn

Mr Hirschhorn showed movie clips (this one featuring Frank Sinatra) to illustrate his commentary on the role of dance and song in early Hollywood movies.

Author of books on the movies and film stars, Clive Hirschhorn, opened the 2010 season with a fascinating and entertaining look at movie clips from the early Hollywood films featuring dance and song. The quality of commentary and insight were so high that I hope Mr Hirschhorn will consider making a multi-part series for television. (And if he does, I hope he devotes an entire episode to the work and life of his friend, the incomparable Judy Garland. The taste he gave us the other night left me wanting more of Mr Hirschhorn’s insights and anecdotes.)

James Rhodes in Barbados at Holders

With no formal academic musical education and a tattoo of Rachmaninoff's name on his arm, the energetic and delightfully goofy James Rhodes wows his audience.

If you roll your eyes at words like “classical” and “piano music,” then you haven’t heard London pianist James Rhodes, Holders’ second night performer.  Mr Rhodes’ gift is bringing music to people by sharing with the audience both himself and his knowledge about the composers whose works he plays. Instead of distancing himself from the audience, long my complaint about classical music performances, he makes classical music fun and accessible.

And he’s funny, too. He said that he was delighted to find that the “green room” at Holders was the bedroom of Wendy’s daughter, supermodel Jody Kidd (minus Jody, of course). Check this out (and imagine what he can do when he uses both hands):

Bruce Morrison at Barbados' Holders Season performing Shakespeare

Actor Bruce Morrison elegantly brings Shakespeare top "hits" to Barbados' Holders Season.

Last evening’s As You Like Him was a one-man tour de force by British actor Bruce Morrison, who, with nothing but a basketful of props, belted out Shakespeare’s most famous speeches, sonnets, and songs one after another, seamlessly and brilliantly. The beauty of the language …. !  “If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?” (from the poignant speech by The Merchant of Venice)

Will I see you at Holders Season this year? I hope so!

2 Responses to “Barbados Holders Performing Arts Festival Brings Jazz, Shakespeare, and More to Its 17th Year”

  1. Greg says:

    Holder’s is like “let’s go watch some great performances in Wendy’s backyard, and take a few drinks with us.” It’s that casual and yet that magical. We’ve had some memorable nights there. A true bajan treasure; someone please give this lady an award!

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