DRUM! showcases Nova Scotia's multicultural heritage. Photo: Halifax DRUM!

Halifax DRUM! "perfect fit" for Olympics

Halifax-based musical production DRUM! will perform at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. Among the cast - an MSVU student and NSCC grad.

A Mount Saint Vincent University student is headed to the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. But he won't be in the crowd to cheer on the athletes - he'll be on stage to entertain the city with Halifax DRUM!.

Jay Andrews calls DRUM! "a good gig." The drummer has been involved in the musical production for two years.

DRUM! tells the stories of Nova Scotia's four founding cultures - the Aboriginal, Acadian, Celtic and Black settlers.

The cast will share those stories with audiences at the Olympics from Feb. 15 to 20. Their first show is at Atlantic Canada House in Granville Island, B.C.

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Alison Macquarrie and Jay Andrews Highland dance and snare drum. Video: Laura Parlee

Highland dancer Alison Macquarrie is new to DRUM! this year. She's a graduate of Saint Francis Xavier University and the Nova Scotia Community College.

"You can't really say you've done something bigger than the Olympics," she said. "I (usually) get nervous right before (a) show starts, but as soon as you're on stage...you feel the energy of the crowd and it just gives you more energy - it's great."

Director Daryl Cloran calls DRUM! "the right show" for the Olympics.

Macquarrie couldn't agree more.

"The Olympics brings together so many countries (and) I think DRUM! is just a perfect fit for it, because it encompasses our cultures within our country," she said.

Cloran says the show will be a great representation of the province to an international audience.

Two of DRUM!'s major performance sites include the Richmond O Zone and the Surrey 2010 Celebration Site.

Ted Townsend, Senior Manager of Corporate Communications for the City of Richmond, says there are many parallels between Richmond - which has the highest number of immigrants in any Canadian city - and the stories told in DRUM!.

Giving it their all 

The group will start rehearsals for the Olympics on Feb. 2, but Macquarrie and Andrews have already started to prepare.

"I usually practise every day," Andrews said. "Because if you stop, it's really hard to get back into it."

The Olympics requires more mental preparation, Macquarrie adds.

"We know the show...but (we) want it to be perfect," she said. "(There's) such a large crowd...I think it's a mental state of making sure that you...can just give it your all when you're out there."

DRUM!'s show usually runs two hours, but it has to be cut into one hour-long performance and one 30-minute performance for the Olympics, Cloran says.

"It means that you can't go...deep into the story, so it really becomes...a lot of the stuff from the first act, the introduction of each culture and their specific rhythms," he said.

Cloran has directed DRUM! for three years. He says the cast is dedicated and proud to show off their production in Vancouver.

The 24 regular members will collaborate with 10 Acadian dancers, as well as drummers from other cultures for a show called Drums of the World.

"A lot of (the cast) have been doing this show since its inception," he said. "I think this is a great opportunity for them."

Cloran says DRUM!'s creator and producer, Brookes Diamond, hopes the show will catch people's eyes across the country.

"DRUM!'s had a really good run in Halifax for a long time and has done well on American tours," he said. "But I know (Brookes would) really like to use (the Olympics) as a jumping-off point to get a nice big tour of the show going, which I think it really deserves."



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