Drumming Up Overseas Interest

The Star Tonight, November 30 2004
Drumming Up Overseas Interest

By Adrienne Sichel

How’s this for snappy marketing – 800 seats, 800 drums. That’s the catchy slogan for the South African phenomenon Drumstruck opening in Sydney next month.

The company leaves for Australia next week to open in the showroom at the Star City Casino on December 15 for six weeks.

This is the third overseas outing in a year for this unique show – it undertook cultural tours to China and Vietnam with its cargo of djembe drums and consignment of African drumming, song, and traditional and urban dance.

In addition, negotiations are still ongoing to open off Broadway in March 2005. Producer, co-creator and Drum Cafe founder, Warren Lieberman says the contract has not been signed yet with Broadway’s Dodgers Stage Holdings.

“It’s a long process,” he says. “They have appointed a director because they want to adapt the show for a New York audience. He will be going to see the show in Australia for a week.

“They’re bringing in the big guns, but all the changes are subject to my approval. I’d love to see what they can do.”

Co-creator Kathy-Jo Ross will be billed as the original director and the cast remains South African. Sydney theatregoers get to see Drumstruck without a word or a note changed. That’s what the Australian producers Edgley International, who bought Drumstruck, want.

Lieberman explains that this is an open ended contract: “If the Sydney season is successful, we could tour the country.”

The drum-along concept has already reached down-under with branches of the Drum Cafe, which spawned this theatrical drumming experience, operating in Sydney and more recently in Melbourne.

Drumstruck was spotted at The Market Theatre last year by Edgley International director Andrew Guild. He was in South Africa to check out the territory for future projects such as the Great Moscow Circus.

The circus, with its own 2 500-seater air-conditioned tent, opens at the Cape Town V&A Waterfront on December 10. Its Joburg premiere is at Montecasino
on January 22.

In the meantime, Drumstruck gets to enjoy its first commercial international exposure in front of hordes of expatriate South Africans.

In addition, a whole new audience who will be introduced to another facet of home-brewed performance from Khoisan dance to master drummers.