Tickets for Gumboots, the much-acclaimed South African song and dance show coming to L.A., will go on sale Oct. 14 by phone at (213) 365-3500 or by internet at www.ticketmaster.com or in person at any Ticketmaster outlet. The show arrives on Nov. 14, when it will begin a limited four-week engagement at the Wilshire Theatre in Beverly Hills, running through Dec. 3. Producing is Broadway/L.A., the theatrical division of the Nederlander Organization.
Gumboots debuted in 1974 at the Thabison Youth Club in Soweto. The club's mission was to coax local youth off the streets and teach them the ways of their people, including some of the traditional tribal dances that were gradually being lost. One was a unique South African dance bred out of the hardship of working in the mines called the Gumboot Dance.
Men who worked in South Africa's gold mines during the apartheid era were brought there in chains, shackled at their workplaces in almost total darkness and forbidden to speak. Gumboot dancing, with its slapping of Wellingtons and rattling of ankle chains, became a way of evading the silence rule and has now become a vibrantly alive art form.
In 1990 the Soweto Rishile Gumboot Dance troupe was founded, under the direction of Zenzi Mbuli and Tale Motsepe, and eventually played the festival circuit in South Africa, Australia, Belgium and Asia.
SFX Back Row, Fifth Amendment, and Columbia Artists Theatricals, Inc. then became involved with the ensemble, creating a new, sleeker version of the show which has been phenomenally successful in South Africa and the U.K. Gumboots premiered in Montreal in July 2000 and will open in New York City in October.Wilshire Theatre is located at 8440 Wilshire Blvd. Other shows scheduled by Broadway/L.A. as part of its 2000-2001 season include Tony n' Tina's Wedding, Annie Get Your Gun, Stomp, Catskills on Broadway, Savion Glover in Foot Notes and Jesus Christ Superstar.
-- By Willard Manus
Southern California Correspondent