Final curtain call for Naparima Bowl CEO

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Diedrian Reece, sister of the late former CEO of the Naparima Bowl, Marlon De Bique, sings during his funeral at the Naparima Bowl, San Fernando, on Monday. -Photo by Lincoln Holder

ACTOR, dancer, singer, choreographer, director, cultural ambassador Marlon De Bique has had his final curtain call at the Naparima Bowl, where he spent his last days as CEO of the space he was creating to become the cultural soul of the south, on June 24.

The casket bearing his body, and surrounded by tastefully done floral arrangements, graced the stage where he would have performed more times than one could count on fingers and toes, from the days of music festival as a child, to adult musical theatre for over three decades.

As his casket was wheeled out of the auditorium and down the corridors to the hearse waiting to take him for the final interment at JE Guides Funeral Home, staff lined either side and raised their right hands in a final salute.

In the courtyard, mourners loudly applauded in much the same way an audience does at the end of a good performance and the entertainer takes his final bow in acknowledgement before the curtain falls.

De Bique, who died last week because of a kidney-related illness at the age of 45, was remembered by relatives and contemporaries as a man whose life was short-lived but well-lived, based on his many accomplishments.

Actor Michael Cherrie speaks at the funeral for the late CEO of the Naparima Bowl, Marlon De Bique, the service was held at the Naparima Bowl, San Fernando, on Monday. – Lincoln Holder

There was grief and pain and sadness, but in the midst of it all, officiating pastor Rev Lurtan Patterson said there was a celebration of a life in a concert-like atmosphere which tempered the suffering.

Songs of praise and worship filled the auditorium from raised voices De Bique would have accompanied on his musical journey or facilitated for performances of one kind or another at the Naparima Bowl space.

Renowned Jessel Murray, on the piano, accompanied the mixed choir consisting of cherished friends from Southernaires, Marionettes Chorale, Lydian Singers, PresCon, Trinity Tenors, Jeunes Agape, Vox Riche and UWI Arts Chorale and conducted by Peter Lockhart, gave renditions worthy of a standing ovation. In the circumstance, sustained applause was accepted.

Actor Michael Cherrie who read excepts from Khali Gibran’s The Nature of Death, said De Bique was a force of nature, a fierce warrior of the arts, an inspiration to him and countless other artiste beyond these shores.

Elder sister Bernadette Vincent recalled De Bique, the last child after four siblings, was a crier, which may have honed his skill as a singer. She admitted his singing annoyed her when they were growing up, but pride surpassed annoyance when she and their late mother heard him perform for the first time.

She remembered him as a proud, caring and remarkable human being, who after having inherited their parents’ home upon their deaths, made it into a bed and breakfast kind of environment, catering to their every need, when the family returned to that space.

Another sister, Diedrian Reece paid tribute to her baby brother in song, demonstrating that beautiful voices were abundant in the family.

Acting principal of Naparima Girls’ High School and interim president of the Secondary Schools Drama Association (SSDA) Naomi Woodsley spoke of De Bique’s quiet charm and healthy attitude to criticism which made him easy to work with.

Tourism and Culture Minister Randall Mitchell also sent a condolence message, read by Naparima Bowl chairman Avion Crooks, commending De Bique for his role in transforming the facility into a space to become a major contributor to the cultural tapestry.