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Eccles Center to come alive with Nova Scotian sounds

MATT JAMES Of the Record staff
One of the scenes from the Drum! production is shown here. Photo courtesy of Drum!
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Saturday, Nov. 19, a new touring show, "Drum!" will visit the Eccles Center. The show comes to Park City in the middle of its first tour of the United States, but the group’s date here will be its only one in the West.

"This is what they call a one off," said Teri Orr, the executive director of the Park City Performing Arts Foundation, which is hosting the group. "They were touring the East Coast."

For its Park City show, "Drum!" will fly from Raleigh-Durham, N.C., to Salt Lake City. From here, they will make the 2,700 mile trip to Saint John, New Brunswick. So the show, is a one-of-a-kind event, east of the Mississippi.

"We’re enormously proud to be one of the first to present this group," said Orr.

"It’s original work," she said. "This isn’t something you’ve seen anywhere before."

Conceived by producer Brookes Diamond, "Drum!" is a musical production featuring the different cultures of Nova Scotia, including the native Mi’kmaq; the first eastern settlers, the French Acadians; the Celtic immigrants who followed them after the institution of British, and the blacks and Caribbeans who followed, riding the Underground Railroad north from the United States.

"What happened in Nova Scotia was, a lot of these cultures stayed isolated in some pockets around the country," said Diamond.

"Drum!" he noted, is designed to reflect the diversity of those cultural pockets.

"It works on the premise that each culture has a distinct rhythm," said Diamond.

The show features the deep beats of aboriginal drums, blues performers, bag pipes, fiddlers, and a drum troupe. Those rhythms and melodies are joined by Highland and hip-hop dancers and gospel singers, and at its heart, a strong Native American influence.

Diamond also emphasized that "Drum!" isn’t just a percussion performance, but a full production.

"It isn’t all about drumming," he said. "’Drum!’ is more of a symbolic name than a literal one The show itself is very much involved with music and dance as well as rhythm."

Diamond said the idea came about while visiting an old French fort in Nova Scotia. There, he heard about the importance of different military rhythms to the French soldiers. This knowledge got him thinking about the importance of different rhythms in each of the province’s cultures, and what it might be like if someone combined those rhythms.

"When we started putting it together and started working with it," said Diamond, "it was pretty much four cultures head on tail.

"But what we were really striving to do," he continued, "was to put the four cultures on stage at the same time."

Combining those diverse elements was difficult, but Diamond said after tweaking the show for five years, since its beginning in 1999, he, his cast and crew have created a comprehensive performance. After seeing years of success in Nova Scotia and the surrounding area, the group is finally taking its show on the road.

Orr said she first saw the show at a conference on Canadian entertainment in Edmonton, Alberta. She said that while bringing the show to Park City will be expensive and tickets might be difficult to sell, the show will be worthwhile.

"It has big performance value," she said.

Diamond said he never imagined his idea would be such a hit.

"This has just worked beyond my hopes," he said. "It’s been a wonderful experience."

He said that the audiences in the United States have appreciated it as much as anyone else.

"I think they identify with it just as strongly as the Nova Scotians," he said.

So while few places in North America are farther away from Park City than Nova Scotia, commonalities endure.

The story the show tells is a nearly universal one, Diamond noted, about how new cultures mix with and influence new ones, creating a unique environment. But at the same time, he said almost everyone comes away surprised.

"It seems that people who come to the show, when they come to the show for the first time, they say, ‘It’s different than I expected,’" Diamond said. "It’s just something that’s very unique."

"Drum!" will appear at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 19 at the Eccles Center in Park City. Tickets range from $15-$50 with discounts for children and students. For tickets and more information, call 655-3114 or visit http://www.ecclescenter.org.


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