Founded in 1960, The Jamaica Musical Theatre Company (JMTC) -originally named The Jamaica Amateur Operatic Society-, is a non-profit organization, which promotes Performing Arts in Jamaica.Each year, this organization stages musicals and concert series celebrating Classical and Musical Theatre genres in true Broadway style. The funds from these performances are given to a deserving Children's' charity. It was in May 1960 that a group of Jamaicans and Expatriates, all interested in theatre, sat down in the hope that they could create a new theatre company. So was founded the Jamaica Amateur Operatic Society (J.A.O.S.). At its first meeting, there were 25 in attendance but within a few weeks the number of members had soared to over 150. The Chief Patron was His Excellency the Governor Sir Kenneth Blackburne K.C.M.G., O.B.E.
At inception in 1960, the annual subscription for J.A.O.S. members ranged from ten shillings and six pence for non-playing juniors to two pounds and two shillings (two guineas) for full playing members. The members must have been quickly off their marks for on October 29, 1960, the first production, Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Pirates of Penzance” opened at the Ward Theatre, playing on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 8:30 pm (prompt). This first productionhad a cast of 58 and an orchestra of 17 led by Musical Director Bill Pilgrim. The Producerand Chairman was Fred Kench and the leads were David Reid and Mercedes Kirkwood. The first Broadway/London West End type musical, “White Horse Inn” in 1962, was J.A.O.S.’ fourth production in all and had a huge cast of 81 including 8 dancers, one of whom was called Michael Reckord. On this occasion, the orchestra numbered 23. Again at the Ward Theatre, the production was directed by Roma Presano.
Overtime, eleven G & S productions would be performed. The Jamaica Junior Theatre (JJT) founded in 1983 by Douglas Bennett, Chairman of JMTC, is an arm of JMTC. The JJT is dedicated to charity and the development of youth in the Performing Arts in Jamaica. It is the only youth organization of its kind in Jamaica, having had 50 productions; between full musical productions (29) and smaller concert series, and is still going strong. The JJT has produced musical Broadway notables such as "Beauty & the Beast," "The Lion King," "Cats," as well as originally scripted musicals such as "FAME: The Next Generation," "Hercules" and "Aladdin".
What makes JJT so unique is that we provide a nurturing and supportive environment for young people to not only learn and develop their theatrical talents but also a humanitarian spirit as they are taught the value of helping other children in need. All cast members are a part of a greater mission- one of giving. The cast members visit and perform for various charities we have supported over the years, such as the S.O.S (Save our Souls) Children’s Village where we provided a JMTC Junior Theatre House for the orphans of this charity, the STEP Centre and PALS Jamaica, to name a few. In 2013, JJT introduced the Christina Bennett Scholarship Fund, founded to further promote the performing arts in Jamaica.