MY HEART IS THE DRUM at Village Theatre
March 24, 2016
This world-premiere new musical set in Africa takes on the toughest issues, with an ultimately uplifting message
MY HEART IS THE DRUM is an original story about 16-year-old Efua Kuti, (played by Claudine Mboligikpelani Nako, who won the 2015 Gregory Award for her performance in LITTLE BEE) who aches to leave behind her poor village in Ghana to become a teacher. When economic hardship forces her parents (Sakuro Kuti played by Jarvis Green and Ama Kuti played by Faith Bennett Russell) to pull her from school to work on the family farm, Efua rebels, compelling her father to arrange a marriage for her that she does not want. Inspired by the spirit of her grandmother, Efua runs away to the city of Accra to attend the university there. However, her escape becomes a dark rite of passage as she discovers that the urban society she's been lured into has more sophisticated and cruel ways of exploiting women than she was capable of imagining. Forced to change and grow amid her struggle to survive, Efua ultimately finds a way to bring together her love of her family and village with her desire to explore the world beyond them. Inspired by the stories of girls and women across the globe, MY HEART IS THE DRUM is a tribute to the transformative role women play in modern society despite continuing oppression. This big coming-of-age musical celebrates the promise within us all.
“Damn near transcendent … It doesn’t matter if you’re a hardcore theater buff, a dabbler or a newbie. Just see it.”
-The Eastside Scene
"By the time the final curtain falls on Village Theatre’s world premiere of 'My Heart is the Drum,' you’ll know you’ve just witnessed something extraordinary. To say the musical production was a tour de force is not just hyperbole. Usually the term is reserved for singling out one particular performance. But the entire cast of 'My Heart is the Drum' is so memorable, the accolade must be shared from the tallest dancer to the youngest extra."
"Set in Ghana in 2000, this promising musical features a yearning, percussive score by composer Phillip Palmer and a winning assortment of ballads and comic songs from lyricist Stacey Luftig."
"Nako is thoroughly engaging and you truly want to root for her to succeed ... Weil plays a lovely counterpart for the clever Efua and you can totally see the chemistry between the two and why they fight for each other. Lauren Du Pree has some stunning moments as Kanika, one of the other working girls, including her powerful song 'No Control.’ And Jon-Michael Reese practically steals the show as Efua's intended, Edward, with his killer voice and hilarious comedic timing and expressions."
"The technical elements are gorgeous. The set (Carey Wong) and costumes (Karen Ann Ledger) are vibrant and beautiful. The music feels authentically and pulsatingly Ghanaian. The cast is winning, with Gypsy Rose Lee award-winner Claudine Mboligikpelani Nako in the lead. Sonia Dawkins’ choreography is quite wonderful. And there is a tiny dancer, Lydia Delane Olson, who is a revelation at such a young age."
-Miryam’s Theater Musings
“…beautiful, well-done, even sumptuous…gorgeous in its simplicity, from beginning to end…the music seemed as comfortable as an old shoe, the tunes and lyrics lovingly fit to each character and each situation."
-Drama in the Hood
"Director Schele Williams fills the stage with the rhythms of Africa and impressions of its landscape. … Carey Wong’s scenic design combines with Aaron Copp’s lighting to create magnificent visual images. One massive tree, a baobab perhaps, dominates many of the scenes. It’s a splendid evocation, especially when the stage is bathed in Copp’s elegant shifting pastel shades."
-Arts Stage - Seattle Rage
*The Actors and Stage Managers are members of the Actor's Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.
We have officially opened MY HEART IS THE DRUM at Village Theatre and I am so proud of this beautiful body of work! There is so much talent and joy on that stage. The spirit and energy has been so high. It is truly a gift. You don’t usually see a musical that has such depth and is willing to go there. We are incredibly fortunate.