DJEMBE! The Show Reviews
Chicago Tribune- Recommended
"..."Djembe!," which is hoping for a long run at the Apollo, also has the advantage of appealing to multiple generations at once. Around me Wednesday night, kids smaller than their drums had a blast, as did some very mature drummers. You're not forced to play and - here's another of the show's main assets - the class is large enough to mask any inadequacies in the drumming department from any particular student. So there's a certain impunity from embarrassment. Cool idea. You can just pretend to be hitting the right spot, or you can go hell for leather. Or you can do as you're told."
Chicago Sun Times- Recommended
"...The main selling point of the show - the tagline of every ad for "DJEMBE!" - is the audience participation: there's a drum on every seat! And indeed there is, and we're encouraged to use them -at appropriate points, and only as instructed. "DJEMBE!" is looking for a very enthusiastic but also very regimented kind of engagement. We've given you a drum, yes, but please don't touch it until we tell you to."
Chicago Reader- Somewhat Recommended
"...As a concert and work of children's theater, components of it are pretty damn cool. Preshow, a projection requesting audiences to "please wait to play your djembe until the show begins" went largely (and understandably) ignored by the excited families in the house on Easter weekend after each audience member was greeted with a weighty, tantalizing drum on his or her seat. There's an undeniable energy to the show from minute one, a promise that West African djembe master Fodé Moussa "Lavia" Camara makes good on once he really gets going."
Windy City Times- Highly Recommended
"...So if you've ever had the hankering to try out some drumming, DJEMBE! The Show is something you should consider. It strives to be a welcoming experience for everyone."
Around The Town Chicago- Highly Recommended
"...Tonight, was a transformative musical experience at the Apollo theatre. As you walk in the theatre every seat comes with a West Africa drum called the Djembe, beckoning you to touch and play it, and let your inner soul come out. With the help of the Emcee played by Ben Hope, he teaches us the magic and how to handle and play the Djembe. The main performer and singer, who teaches us the sounds and songs from West Africa Rashada Dawan, a native of Chicago, who's voice is so pleasant to listen to, and teaches us the culture of the Djembe."
WTTW- Highly Recommended
"...While the musicians are superb in their rhythmic passion, it is Dawan’s glorious, genre-spanning voice, ebullient dancing, wonderfully sassy spirit and three costume changes (cheers for designer Montana Levi Blanco) from contemporary Afro-traditional, to shimmering black sheath, to colorful Calypso-modern blouse and pants, that easily steals the show and infuses it with a warm yet sassy peace-and-love vibe. Pure star quality."
Chicago Theatre Review- Highly Recommended
"...Djembe! is an energetic and joyous performance with the audience participating in musical theater and a journey through the history of rhythm."
Chicagoland Musical Theatre- Recommended
"...All in all, it’s got the right formula. The premise is simple enough: an ensemble of performers and musicians guide the audience through a sort of interactive musical history lesson concerning the proliferation of West African rhythms through the African Diaspora and into the modern age as embodied through the titular djembe drum. The novelty is that every seat in the theatre includes a djembe, and throughout the performance the audience is educated in the basics of playing it and invited to participate in the music making."
Third Coast Review- Recommended
"...Djembe! is a Disney-like journey through the history of the West African drum, a kind of "Around the Drum in 80 Minutes" diorama, and that's OK. The intermission-less musical, in its US premiere at the Apollo Theater, is tailor-made for 'tweens and families eager to make some noise together."
Picture This Post- Somewhat Recommended
"...In this writer's opinion this might be a good show for children over the age of 10, but not too interesting for adults and especially those already familiar with this musical genre. The narrative of the show is written below the level of young adult fiction. It's especially a good fit for people who have no familiarity of the origins of this music. Nonetheless, it is a lively musical journey."