New Zealanders reckon they know a bit about gumboots. But they ain’t seen nothing yet.
A musical based on dancing in gumboots is on stage at the Oamaru Opera House on Monday. Stimela: The Gumboot Musical has become a worldwide hit, inspiring audiences not only with its uplifting singing and movements, but also with its story of triumphing over oppression.
Gumboot dancing developed in South Africa’s gold mines in the 19th century. Slave labourers toiled in grim, gloomy conditions and were even forbidden to speak. They formed their own way of communicating by slapping their gumboots and rattling their ankle chains. Over time it became a unique dance form.
Stimela: The Gumboot Musicalhas been described as South Africa’s equivalent to Tap Dogs, Stomp, or Lord of the Dance
Some of its songs are traditional, but much of the content was written by the show’s director, Thapelo Motloung, with Mario Nqabeni. It has been likened to the music of Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
When the musical was performed at the Adelaide Fringe Festival, it earned a five-star review and an assurance the “very funny and very tender” show would leave audiences “calling for more”.
The Oamaru performance is at 8pm. Tickets are $45 for an adult, $35 for seniors and students, $30 for a child, $120 for a family of two adults and two children, and $240 for a group of eight. They are available at the box office or online at TicketDirect.
* Two nights later, the Oamaru Opera House is hosting West Auckland ukulele band The Nukes.
Billed as “part vaudeville, part rat pack, part musical car crash”, it features three musicians who coax astonishing sounds out of their instruments. Three-part vocal harmonies and witty dialogue add to the mix.
The Nukes – David Thiele, Dave Parker, and Benjamin Collier – are popular with people of all ages, earning repeat invitations to appear at WOMAD.
Their visit to Oamaru is part of an Arts on Tour New Zealand initiative coinciding with the release of their third album. They also plan to appear at several festivals in the northern hemisphere. The show starts at 7.30pm on Wednesday, in the ODT InkBox Theatre. Tickets cost $25 plus service fees.