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At the Everett Performing Arts Center
2710 Wetmore Avenue Everett, WA 98201
Box Office: (425) 257-8600
Tuesday-Friday 11:00am - 5:00pm

At the Everett Performing Arts Center
2710 Wetmore Avenue Everett, WA 98201
Box Office: (425) 257-8600 | Admin: (425) 392-1942

My Heart Is the Drum


Book by Jennie Redling
Music and Concept by Phillip Palmer • Lyrics by Stacey Luftig

A Spirited and Inspiring New Musical

In the small village of Kafrona in Ghana, one spirited young woman is determined to attend university, against all odds. So when her education is denied, she defies her parents and risks everything to set off for the big city. But what awaits her there is more dangerous than she dared imagine, and she finds that more than just her dreams are at stake.

This production marks the exciting World Premiere of My Heart Is the Drum, which was originally selected for Village Theatre’s Festival of New Musicals in 2014 and was further developed through the Village Originals program. Featuring an award-winning book and score, the musical is rich with inspiring characters and driving African rhythms, woven together in a story that celebrates strength, courage, and the love that sustains us through even the most harrowing of circumstances.

April 29 — May 22, 2016
March 17 — April 24, 2016 in Issaquah

Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 PM
Fridays at 8:00 PM
Saturdays at 2:00 PM and 8:00 PM
Sundays at 2:00 PM and 7:00 PM

Post-Show Discussion: May 14, 2016 at 2:00 PM

Running Time: 2.5 hours (not including 15 minute intermission)

Sample the music of My Heart Is the Drum!

Know Before You Go: Download the Performance Preview Guide »

My Heart Is the Drum addresses challenging themes such as education equality, the AIDS epidemic, and human trafficking. Village Theatre will be working with local and international organizations to offer post-show talkbacks and other resources to provide additional insights on these important subjects. See below for more details.

  • Talkback Series


    • Sunday, May 1 at 7:00 PM – Victoria Santos, Co-Director of Young Women Empowered (Y-WE)
    • Saturday, May 14 at 2:00 PM – Members of the cast speak about the show and the process of working on a World Premiere
    • Sunday, May 15 at 2:00 PM - Dr. Gary Goldbaum, director and health officer for Snohomish Health District will answer questions regarding HIV/AIDS.
    • Wednesday, May 18 at 7:30 PM – Richard Yinkah, Founder and Executive Director of ADANU, with a mission to ignite the passion of Ghanaian communities to bring about a future filled with opportunity and hope.
    • Saturday, May 21 at 2:00 PM – Paula Newman-Skomski, founder of Peoria Home and the Nurse Practitioner for Providence Intervention Center for Assault & Abuse

    * Times listed are the start time of the performance. Talkbacks will take place immediately following the conclusion of the show, with a brief pause for set-up.

  • Further Reading

    Interested in learning more about African culture and some of the issues addressed in My Heart Is the Drum? Librarians at the King County Library System have graciously provided the following list for further reading. Books can be checked out through both the King County and the Everett Public Library System. Happy reading!

    • Americana Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi
    • Little Bee Cleave, Chris
    • Thirty Girls Minot, Susan
    • Chanda's Secrets Stratton, Allan
    • Say You're One of Them Akpan, Uwem
    • Half of A Yellow Sun Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi
    • Mama Miti: Wangari Maathai and the Trees of Kenya Napoli, Donna Jo
    • What Is the What: The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng: A Novel Eggers, Dave
    • Ghana Must Go Selasi, Taiye
    • The Hairdresser of Harare Huchu, Tendai
    • Baking Cakes in Kigali: A Novel Parkin, Gaile
    • The Girl Who Married a Lion and Other Tales From Africa McCall Smith, Alexander
    • Wife of the Gods: A Novel Quartey, Kwei J.
  • Fast Facts about My Heart Is the Drum
    • Phillip Palmer, the show's composer, has devoted five years to humanitarian work in Haiti and several African countries, where he also immersed himself in the study of the syncopated rhythms of traditional drumming and singing.

    • My Heart Is the Drum has been developed at the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop, where all three collaborators are members. Jennie Redling received the Jerry Harrington Award for Creative Excellence from BMI for her work on the book.

    • The show tackles global women's issues that Hillary Clinton calls "the unfinished business of the 21st century" with writers who have first-hand experience; composer Phillip Palmer worked as a volunteer at an AIDS counseling center in South Africa and bookwriter Jennie Redling is a certified rape-crisis/sexual-assault counselor.
  • Cast

    *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.

    Claudine Mboligikpelani Nako

    Efua Kuti
    Claudine Mboligikpelani Nako*

    Joell Weil

    Balinda Dagumbo
    Joell Weil*

    Jon-Michael Reese

    Edward Adu
    Jon-Michael Reese*

    Erica Nicole

    Catherine Seidu / Ensemble
    Erica Nicole*

    Shaunyce Omar

    Shaunyce Omar

    Faith Bennett Russell

    Ama Kuti/Ensemble
    Faith Bennett Russell

    Jarvis Antonio Green

    Sakuro Kuti
    Jarvis Antonio Green*

    Aaron Johnson

    Kofi Kuti/Ensemble
    Aaron Johnson

    Marquis Johnson

    Marquis Johnson*

    Riley Brack

    Riley Brack

    Shanelle Nicole Leonard

    Shanelle Nicole Leonard

    Reginald Andre Jackson

    Charles Dagumbo/Ensemble
    Reginald Andre Jackson*

    Sarah Russell

    Essie Dagumbo/Ensemble
    Sarah Russell

    Geoffery Simmons

    Caesar Nabuto
    Geoffery Simmons*

    Lauren Du Pree

    Lauren Du Pree*

    Nicole Prothro

    Nicole Prothro*

    Justin Michael Thornton

    Justin Michael Thornton

    Ty Willis

    Ty Willis

    Lydia Delane Olson

    Lydia Delane Olson

    Joshua E. Riddle

    Joshua E. Riddle


    Efua Kuti: Nicole Prothro*
    Balinda Dagumbo: Shanelle Nicole Leonard
    Edward Adu: Aaron Johnson
    Sakuro Kuti: Ty Willis
    Caesar Nabuto: Justin Michael Thornton
    Ensemble: Angelica Barksdale
    Ensemble: Jelani Kee
    Ensemble: Kristin Natalia Riddle
    Ensemble: Vincent J. Orduña
    Ensemble: Sophia Phillips

  • Gallery
  • Video
  • Press

    "It’s not just the gorgeous costuming and set design. It’s not only the sparkling voices, the intricate melodies and rhythms or dance that express joy so well it brought a broad grin to my face. It isn't just the charming folk tales and vignettes of the simple life of rural Ghana. My Heart is the Drum has an important message for you.” Edmonds Beacon

    "It sounds heavy, but the reality is these issues make for good discussions with high school students. The story also is full of light, courage, hope and even comedy; the music is gorgeous and the singing is spot on.” Everett Herald

    "It sounds heavy, but the reality is these issues make for good discussions with high school students. The story also is full of light, courage, hope and even comedy; the music is gorgeous and the singing is spot on.” Everett Herald

    Parent Map

    “My Heart Is the Drum is a musical with great staging, costumes, music, dance and singing. It’s also a musical that ventures into tough issues like sex trafficking, prostitution and AIDS and grapples with the roles and rights of girls and women—all of which make for terrific fodder for discussion with teens.” Parent Map

    The Eastside Scene

    “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

    Issaquah Press

    "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." Issaquah Press

    Seattle Times

    "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." Seattle Times

    Miryam’s Theater Musings

    "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

    Drama in the Hood

    “…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

    Arts Stage - Seattle Rage

    "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

    Broadway World

    "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." Broadway World

    Seattle Gay News

    "We’re incredibly fortunate. And there is so much talent here. There’s so much joy in the room, the spirit and energy has been so high. We’re also excited to bring a show that we’ve lived with for so long to the Seattle area community at large. It’s a gift!” Lyricist Stacey Luftig in interview with Seattle Gay Scene

    Seattle Met

    "It’s set in Ghana, so we have the richness of that landscape represented on stage and the richness of the music and the culture and the dance and the movement and all of that, however the story itself, and the characters themselves, could be anywhere in the world. We’re discussing things that exist here in Seattle, things that exist all over the United States." Claudine Mboligikpelani Nako in interview with Seattle Met

    Issaquah Press

    “You don’t usually see a musical that has such depth and is willing to go there. I thought if I get the opportunity to guide this production through all these murky waters, it’s going to be an incredible challenge, but it’s going to be thrilling for me as a director.” Director Schele Williams in interview with Issaquah Press

  • Single Ticket Prices

    Ticket Prices

    General Senior Youth
    Sat Mat / Sat Eve / Sun Mat
    Wed / Thu / Fri / Sun Eve

    * Youth 18 & Under | Senior 65 & Older

    Seating Chart

    Numbered Seating Chart

My Heart Is the Drum was presented at the National Alliance for Musical Theatre’s Festival of New Musicals in 2013.



My Heart Is the Drum Playbill

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Box Office

Everett Performing Arts Center
(425) 257-8600
2710 Wetmore Avenue
Everett, WA 98201

11:00 AM-7:00 PM
11:00 AM-5:00 PM (Summer)


Francis J. Gaudette Theatre
303 Front Street North
Issaquah, WA 98027
Box Office: (425) 392-2202

Everett Performing Arts Center
2710 Wetmore Avenue
Everett, WA 98201
Box Office: (425) 257-8600



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