commentary by Judy Harris

with factual help from Paul and Andrew Tracey and Nigel Pegram

visit my home page at   http://www.bestweb.net/~foosie/index.htm

or E-mail me at  Foosie@bestweb.net

MINIM cast

click here to go to ACT II

MINIM cast

Broadway playbill Broadway LP British cast
April performing rose dance Michel, Nigel, Andrew & Barbara singing I GAVE MY LOVE A CHERRY April doing GRETL'S COW mime
Nigel, Andrew and Paul doing Eine kleine bombardonmusik Nigel & Andrew performing LALIRETTE April's TOUR DE FRANCE dance
Nigel performs A PIECE OF GROUND Nigel as Chairman, Paul as Professor Piercing Nigel, Helene, Andrew and Paul perform COOL
Nigel, Andrew and Paul perform WEE COOPER O'FIFE WEE COOPER O'FIFE from different angle April, Nigel and Andrew perform CHUZI MAMA
April and Kendrew perform ON GUARD Kendrew and April perform OPENING KNIGHT Inside the Broadway programme
kalimba   London Programme Cast Photos  South African LP
Barbara Tracey

Ndinosara Nani  (Click here for a YouTube version of NDINOSARA NANI)

Ndinosara Nani? means With Whom Will I Stay? Sometimes I still sing the opening syllables (ee-yay-ah-ee-yay) to myself; I find them very beautiful, even though they are nonsense syllables. They recall to me the way the hairs on the back of my neck would stand on end from the combination of excitement and the cold in the first row of the Golden Theatre. Although there is musical accompaniment to this song; it now reminds me of the a capella Ladysmith Black Mambazo; it's just very beautiful choral singing; strangely pleasing in a way I am unable to convey, I'm afraid.

During this song, the cast is dressed as follows: Andrew is wearing a conical grass Basuto African hat (this was called a "kaffir" hat in the program, but that was over 40 years ago and Nigel and Andrew inform me this term is no longer politically correct); he is wrapped in a multicolored striped Ndebele blanket, playing a karimba type of mbira (which he had made) inside a calabash. Nigel is similarly attired and playing a guitar. Michel is wearing a black feathered headdress, black feathered arm bands, a leopard skin over his chest, a red patterned skirt and just the tops of some striped knee socks; he plays a twisted idiophone (a gourd wrapped in a beaded net which he holds in one hand and hits against the other; Paul tells me the official name of this is a shekere). Dana wears a hat similar to Andrew's; a tiger print dress is draped around her; she plays Flamboyant (Royal Poinciana) pods; Paul is dressed similarly to Andrew and Nigel and plays a guitar.

During Paul's opening speech, when he introduces everyone, Kendrew appears in what I think of as "ordinary basic costume" which is just dark dungaree style trousers and a long sleeved, faded, colored shirt (Each of the men had his own particular combination of colors - Kendrew, black trousers and faded yellow shirt; Andrew, charcoal and pale brick red; Paul, dark olive and dusty pink; Nigel, navy and pale mustard yellow; Michel, navy and medium brick red. For the bulk of the show, the cast had bare feet.); Kendrew also wears a beige hat with a floppy brim and totes a gun. Sarah wears a sort of khaki safari outfit complete with pith helmet; while April wears a lilac satin dress with a white Voortrekker (Boer) bonnet.

They sing a little bit of Ndinosara Nani:

Woye ndinosara nani?
Hende he here

Hende he hendere here,

Hende he here.
Kana ndoda kuramba murume ndoshereketa If ever I should want to divorce my husband, I would fool around
Kana unonida mai-we zara kuteve
Unoramba murume.
Sadza madjga here, Have you eaten your porridge
      Chikwenjere ha hii
Nomsoro ombewa with the special treat I put in it?
     Chikwenjere ha hii
Kana ndikafa When I die,
Ndondosiyei? What will be left of me?
Msururgwa ameno Just a little heap of teeth.

Dana often sang:
Munoramba murume                                  You are refusing your husband
Munoramba mukadzi                                  You are refusing your wife

...and then Paul gives the following speech:

During the course of this evening, we're going to be appearing disguised as many different sorts of South Africans, so we thought it would be a good idea if we introduced ourselves to you before we start without hats. (They all take their hats off at this cue). Playing this instrument inside the calabash is Andrew Tracey; he comes from Durban. Standing behind him is Nigel Pegram; Nigel was born in Cape Town and brought up in Rhodesia. This is Michel Martel; he's a Frenchman from the island of Mauritius. This is Dana Valery. Dana comes from Italy. On that side, Kendrew Lascelles, who's a ski instructor from Cairo. Sarah Atkinson, who's from London. And April Olrich, who comes from Zanzibar. My name is Paul Tracey; I'm from Durban; Andrew there is my brother. The show is called WAIT A MINIM! I hope you've come to the right theatre!

(On the tape I have, the audience doesn't laugh at the Cairo joke; Paul says it very dryly, but I can picture Egyptians skiing down the pyramids. When I mentioned it to him 30 years later, he can't remember ever saying it; it was probably a one time joke.)

Now, as you can see, South Africa is rather like the United States: it consists of many different sorts of people. This evening we're going to try and impersonate some of these different people. We're going to do so mainly by changing hats. Now, this one I've got here (indicating his Sotho hat) for this evening represents a black South African. This one here (Michel's feathered one) is also for a black South African. This one here (April proffers golden headdress) represents an Indian South African. That one's for a British South African (pith helmet). There are also Chinese and Japanese, Germans and French, Scottish and so on. The hat you see on the far side there (Kendrew's) is for a white South African. And so are these, and so is that one (April's). Well, that's about it, so here we go!

Woye ndinosara nani?
Hende he here
Hende he hendere here
Hende he here
Msururgwa ameno

We bring greetings to Sammy Davis, Jr., Hey! Hey!
We bring greetings to Sammy Davis, Jr.



Msururgwa Ameno

(Sammy Davis was appearing in GOLDEN BOY at the time MINIM opened at a theatre whose stage door shared the same alley as MINIM.) When MINIM was in London, Paul said: "Oh, it's nice to be in London town." And Andrew replied, "We bring greetings to her Majesty, the Queen." He aso said the latter in Canada.  In Australia, the name was Lionel Rose, an Australian bantamweight boxer, the first Indigenous Australian to win a world title.)

The song concludes with Michel all alone on stage, singing the Sammy Davis line; he becomes nervous as Kendrew appears and runs off stage, leaving the shekere rattle behind. Ken picks it up gingerly; it rattles. He says "Yugh", laughs and exits quickly. Ken was capable of doing a wonderfully goofy, crooked mouth smile/sneer that I am at a loss how to describe, and he did it at this point.  Kendrew in MINIM opening

Hoe Ry Die Boere

The first line of Hoe Ry Die Boere translates as How do the Boers ride? Sit, sit, so; this is repeated and then ends in "hurrah!". There are many more verses in the original Afrikaans number, but for the purposes of MINIM, mainly this opening verse was repeated.

April performs a Voortrekker folk dance, while Ken repeatedly interrupts to shoot Michel, especially when Mich accidentally becomes mixed up in April's dance (her vision being impaired by her bonnet, so she doesn't realize her partner is a native). Mich tries to evade Ken and his gun as they repeatedly pass during this number, but Ken continues to shoot at him.

Paul, Andrew and Nigel are all wearing ordinary basic costume and Boer hats, playing guitars and singing. Kendrew and April come on dressed as they were in Ndinosara Nani. Michel is likewise dressed as in Ndinosara Nani but now has a drum.

Hoe ry die Boere? Sit sit so
Sit sit so, sit sit so

Hoe ry die Boere? Sit sit so

Sit sit so, hoera!

This is God's own country, happy, happy

This is God's own country, happy as can be.

Hoe ry die boere, etc.

This is the land for you and for me
This is the land of opportunity.

Michel comes on, beating a drum and Kendrew shoots him.

Hoe ry die Boere, etc.
We dance and play daar onder in die vlei

Happy as the birds we sing away all day

("Daar onder in die vlei" means "down there in the valley" in Afrikaans.)

Hoe ry die Boere, etc.

Sarah comes on dressed as she was in Ndinosara Nani, trailed by Michel who is carrying her suitcases. Sarah sings:

This is the land where I was born
Not so long ago.

This is the land that's troubled now

With worry and with woe.

(When Barbara took over Sarah's role, she instead sang):

From Cape Town to Cairo
Where-so-e'er I roam
Be it ever so humble

There's no place like home.

Andrew, Paul and Nigel continue:

Hoe ry die Boere, etc.
This is the life and this is the beer
This is the way to live a life of cheer

("This is the life and this is the beer" was a reference to a then current Castle Beer advert.)

Hoe ry die Boere, etc.

Michel comes on again beating the drum, sees Kendrew, starts to join in singing Hoe ry die boere, and Kendrew shoots him again.

This is Worth Fighting For

(I was amazed when listening to Russell Davies Radio 2 programme in May 2012 to learn this was an American song from the WWII era written by Eddie DeLange and Sammy Stept.)

Sarah sings:

I saw a peaceful old valley
With a carpet of corn for a floor
And I heard a voice within me whisper

This is worth fighting for.

She calls to Michel: Boy!

Michel picks up her luggage.

Subuhi Sana

Simultaneous to Sarah's singing This is Worth Fighting For, Andrew, accompanying himself on the African bow, sings a few lines of Subuhi Sana, signalling the reversal of the roles of Sarah and Michel.
Asubuhi sana, nili toka nyumbani yangu Early in the morning, I went out of my house
Nili kuwa nakwenda toka nji yangu I was going out along my way
Nili kuta wanawake wawili munjia I espied two women on the way

Michel claps his hands at Sarah, now toting the luggage, who sings: And I heard a voice within me thunder... Oh, boy! Andrew sings (a capella):
O sizolalel'                                                     Oh, we will hear

The rest of the cast replies (also a capella):
A sizolal' amaphoyisa ahlal' esangwen' Oh, we will hear the police standing at the gate
O abalalel' umthetho Oh, they don't listen to the law.

Jikel' Emaweni (Click here for a YouTube version of JIKEL' EMAWENI)

Dana, Nigel, Andrew, Michel and Paul are wearing the same costumes as in Ndinosara Nani. Dana plays a musical bow called umakhweyana; Nigel and Andrew play guitars - Andrew's was actually a guitarra Portuguesa or Portuguese cittern; Michel plays Flamboyant pods which, again, he holds in one hand and hits against the other; Paul plays a Home Made Bull Fiddle (string bass).

This is a song with the famous Xhosa clicks and it's so rhythmic and attractively staged, it doesn't matter you don't know what the lyrics mean (it is a boasting song about young Xhosa boys doing a martial art form of stick fighting). During a portion of this song, Dana turns her back to the audience, sings a kind of "yo yo ho" chorus and the tiger on the back of her dress undulates as she moves her hips to the rhythm of the melody.

Intonga zamakwenkwe The sticks of the young men
Zapugel' emlanjeni wo-hmm Are being broken at the river
Ukubeta kubetsw' intonga ya-hmm Because there is stick fighting going on!
Amadod' ayoyika ukubeka Even grown men are afraid
     Mlanjeni wo-hmm To go down to the river
Ukube ka mlanjeni wo-hmm
Ukuba kubetsw' iintonga, ya-hmm Because there is stick fighting going on!

O Jikele maweni ndiyahamba Turn back at the cliffs; I'm going.
Jikele maweni ndiyahama
O Jikele maweni ndiyahamba
Jikele maweni ndiyahamba

Aqensa makwenkwe The young men are dancing
Aqensa kwabamand' Dancing at the mine
Aqensa makwenkwe The young men are dancing,
Aqensel' emgodin' Dancing at the mine.

Repeat Jikele Maweni
Ajika' madoda ajika kwabamand' The (grown) men are turning, turning beautifully
Ajika' madoda The (grown) men are turning
Ajikel' emgodin' Turning at the mine.


Repeat Jikele Maweni and
Ajika' madoda

Intonga zamakwenkwe The sticks of the young men
Zapugel' emlanjeni wo-hmm Are being broken at the river
Ukuba kubetsw' intonga ya-hmm Because there is stick fighting going on!

Michel runs across stage, partly dressed in his Ajade Papa costume, looking over his shoulder. Kendrew follows, shooting at him. Ken notices the audience and with feigned joviality and a false laugh says, "We bring greetings to Sammy Davis, Jr. ha ha."

Ajade Papa

Michel is wearing a turban and a short white Indian coat; he holds a finger cymbal. Ken enters and blows smoke in Michel's face, causing him to cough. Mich removes a large hammer from his waistband, causing Ken to depart hurriedly. Michel hits the finger cymbal with the hammer, as he sings, missing occasionally. He hits his finger with the hammer at the end.

This is a lullaby Michel learned in Mauritius.

Ajade Papa, Ajade
Ajade Papa, Ajade

Amma yiruntal, ka tarul


Ajade Papa, Ajade

Yintaru mulle
Umtaru mulle

Yintaru mulle araro

Ajade Papa, Ajade
Ajade Papa, Ajade

Michel was a short, barrel chested, devilishly handsome French-accented former singing bus conductor(!) originally from Mauritius. He had a way of jutting out his chin and pursing his lips that was pretty adorable. Mich was very sweet to me and my friend, Janet Hill, who actually saw MINIM 19 times (one more than I!). He ate out with us in New York and when the show was on tour, sent me flowers on my birthday, and it was he who kindly gave us the tape of the complete show. We hosted a party for some of the MINIM cast when the show was in Philadelphia, and he laboriously hollowed out some pineapples to make a festive alcoholic drink. After the show closed in Boston, Janet and I rode back East with him (he to New York, us to Philly) on the train.

He was absolutely impervious to cold. I remember seeing him on 45th Street outside the Golden Theatre where MINIM was playing in some freezing February weather. Janet and I were bundled up with hats and scarves and coats and leg warmers; and Mich not only was not wearing even a jacket, but also he had his shirt open at the top. He believed in mind over matter, he told us!

Dingere Dingale

Dana and April carry a bed of nails on stage. Michel is dressed as in Ajade Papa ; Andrew, Paul and Nigel are similarly dressed; Paul plays finger cymbals; Nigel plays a tanpura drone; and Andrew plays the tabla drums. Kendrew wears a turban and gold lamé Turkish trousers; he has bells around his neck. Dana wears a sari; April wears a gold lamé headdress, a gold-edged turquoise bolero, bare midriff with a jewel in her navel, turquoise calf-length tights held on by a gold lamé bikini bottom, sole-less gold thongs, bells on her ankles and a large jewel on her left big toe.

As Michel sits on the bed of nails, Kendrew dances; at the end of his dance his eyes connect with someone in the audience; he tilts his head suggestively toward the wings, as if to say "meet you backstage" and then he dances off.

Dana sings:

Dingere dingale minachi, Dingere dingale
Wula kompola por ke pachi sanga di shona le

Michel sings:

Kanchi pone roti, soupa every dinner
Arivela me mansa, indi beri maina

Gudera vaha yellum, iver puchi ta-a

Yena dani senda, I'm very sorry!

April dances and at one point stands on one leg with the other bent in the air.  She notices her toe with the large jewel on it.  Something else disturbs her and she glares at her foot in disgust.  April disgusted at her
          toeLater she stops center stage where she clasps her arms over her head and moves her neck sinuously back and forth. Suddenly her neck becomes stuck. Nigel and Paul carry her offstage, her entire body rigid. Michel tries to get off the bed of nails, but is stuck. Dana and Andrew exit, leaving Michel alone on stage with Kendrew. Mich gestures to Ken to help him up but Ken pushes him down onto the nails (blackout).

April was a wonderful comic dancer; she had simply huge eyes which reminded me of a Bil Baird marionette I had seen as a child. Her hair was silky and extremely blonde; so she made an interesting visual contrast to Kendrew (with whom she had most of her scenes) because he was very dark.

Michel once boasted of being able to eat the hottest food. On a day Andrew had made a curry at home which was inedibly hot, he brought it to the theatre and tried to give it to Michel during this number, but he dropped it at the crucial moment, leaving an orange mess on the stage floor. Thinking fast, Frank Rembach, MINIM's unflappable stage manger, came behind one of the flats with a mop and cleaned it up before the audience even knew about it. Andrew's experience is that audiences always think anything that happens on stage is on purpose.

Tuba Man

Tuba Man is MINIM's recurring joke; Kendrew is dressed all in black, long coat, floppy hat. He crosses from stage right to stage left carrying his tuba. He stops center stage and does his special grimace and exits. That's it.

I Know Where I'm Going

Andrew wishes to credit Pete Seeger for this song. Paul and Andrew are in ordinary basic costume; Sarah is in a plain dark dress with a shawl over her head. Andrew plays guitar and Paul plays the flute.

Paul sings:

I know where I'm going
And I know who's going with me

I know who I love,

But the de'il knows who I'll marry

Feather beds are soft
And painted rooms are many,

But I would trade them all

For my lovely winsome bonnie.

Sarah sings:

I'd have stockings of silk
And shoes of bright green leather

Combs to buckle in my hair

And a ring for ev'ry finger.

Some say he's bad
But I say he's bonnie

Fairest of them all

Is my lovely handsome Johnny.

Over the Hills

April is in a white flimsy dress and carries a rose; Andrew is in ordinary basic costume and plays a folk tune called Over the Hills on the bamboo pipe. April dances a sort of ethereal moonlight dance, imagining she's having a major romantic impact on Andrew, as she drops rose petals and offers him her rose. At the end, Andrew hits a sour note. April gives him a disgusted look and makes a sort of "up yours" gesture with her foot.  Click here for a photo of April performing the Rose Dance, taken during the last weeks of the Sydney, Australia tour (photo copyright WAIT A MINIM).

I Gave My Love A Cherry

Paul, Andrew, Nigel and Michel are in ordinary basic costume; Dana is in a plain dark dress. Click here for a photo of Michel, Nigel, Andrew and Barbara Quaney (Paul would stand to the right and did not fit in the photo), taken during the last weeks of the Sydney, Australia tour (photo copyright WAIT A MINIM).  Andrew explains here he has combined two different versions which were remarkably similar except where one went up the other went down and vice versa. He successfully combined them with the help of some extra 4-part harmonizing and regrets not giving credit to Jean Ritchie whose family version was one of the two he used.

To Andrew's, Nigel's and Michel's harmonized humming, Paul sings:

I gave my love a cherry that had no stone.
I gave my love a chicken that had no bone.
I told my love a story that had no end.

I gave my love a baby with no cryin'.

Dana sings:

How can there be a cherry without a stone?
How can there be a chicken without a bone?

How can there be a story without an end?

How can there be a baby with no cryin'?

Paul sings:

A cherry when it's blooming, it has no stone.
A chicken when it's pipping, it has no bone.
The story of "I love you", it has no end.
A baby when it's sleeping, there's no cryin'.

BLACK-WHITE CALYPSO  (Click here for a YouTube version of BLACK-WHITE CALYPSO)

This is one of several songs Jeremy Taylor wrote for the show in its various editions. It has been slightly altered for American (and I guess London) audiences to explain that Drum magazine is aimed at black South Africans; and the Star is aimed at white South Africans. Nigel is dressed in ordinary basic costume and accompanies himself on the guitar. Offstage, Andrew plays a steel drum, Paul his H.M. Bull Fiddle and Michel shekere.

The other day reading Drum magazine --
That's the magazine for the black South Africans --
I'll tell you some of the things I've seen;

The other day reading Drum magazine --

I'll tell you some of the things I've seen:

Advertisements for special cream in every section
Give you a soft and pale complexion

Make your black skin lighter

Creamier and whiter.

But when I look into the Star --
That's the newspaper for the white South Africans --

What do I find?

Advertisements of a different kind

It seems that the white people have a notion

To make themselves black with the suntan lotion.

Tell me, tell me, tell me why -
I want to know the fact -

Why all the black people want to go white

And the white people want to go black.

Now, the other day the native girl, she say to me
Hau, master, your madam is very skinny,

The other day, she say to me

Your madam is very skinny.

She say she also is much too thin
Must have some fatt'ning vitamin

She said that it's a fact that

All the men like a bottom to be fat.

But in the northern suburbs the women are used to
Living on lettuce and orange juice - to

Be slim is their preoccupation.

My God, what a crazy nation this is!

Ah, tell me, tell me, tell me why -
I want to know the fact -

Why all the black people want to go white

And the white people want to go black.

Now, turning the pages of Zonk I see
A special tonic which guarantee -

Yes, turning the pages of Zonk I see

A special tonic which guarantees

To make your curly hair straight
Give you success on every date

Misfortune in love is attributed there

To having such coal black curly hair

But when I pass by the Rosebank Beauty Parlor
I see the women sitting there hour after hour

With a great big thing on their head

Trying to make their straight hair curly instead -

     Ain't it ridiculous?

Tell me, tell me, tell me why -
I want to know the fact -

Why all the black people want to go white

And the white people want to go black.

Well now, I have a simple remedy
For all this frustrated energy.
Yes, I have a simple remedy
For all this frustrated energy:

If you blacks have too much of this pigment stuff
The white people say they've not got enough
Don't waste your time buying creams and jellies
Trying to change the color of your bellies

But follow the example of my brother
He married a black girl - they love each other
And she give him a little bit of black in the night
And he give a her little bit of white:
      That's the solution!

Now, oh now, I know why
I can tell you the fact

Why all the black people want to go white

And the white people want to go black.

Deutches Weinlied

Andrew, Paul, Nigel and Michel are in ordinary basic costume; in addition, they each wear a short jacket, feathered hat and boots, and each plays a guitar, except Michel who just has a beer stein in one hand. Kendrew and April are in leiderhosen, blue shirts, white knee socks, feathered hats and also carry beer steins. Dana wears a feathered hat, lacy blouse, black cummerbund, aproned skirt, white knee socks and black shoes.

First everyone enthusiastically sings a kind of Teutonic drinking song with a glint in their eye, swinging the arm that holds the beer stein in time to the music.

A schweinderne wurst, und
Aa frische mass bier
A schwartz-augats madel

Des schodet ma neit

Hola di ri a, hola di o Hola di ri a, hola di o

Hola di ri a, hola di o Hola di ri a, hola di o

Michel jumps upon a box and sings:

O du wunderschoner
Deutscher wein

Du sollst ewig

Deutschlands zierde sein

(everyone stomps on the wunderschoner line and raises his beer stein on the Deutschlands line)

O du wunderschoner
Deutscher wein

Du sollst ewig

Deutschlands zierde sein

Then Sarah sings:
Du du liegst mir im herzen You, you, lie in my heart
Du du liegst mir im sinn You, you, lie in my mind
Du du machst mir viel schmerzen You, you, give me much pain
Weisst nicht wie gut ich dir bin You don't know how good I am to you.

Ja ja ja ja
Weisst nicht wie gut ich dir bin

Ken comes over and sits Sarah on a box. When she attempts to rise to sing, he pushes her down, causing her to sing this last line in an angry tone:

Ja ja ja ja
Weisst nicht wie gut ich dir bin

Nigel, Paul and Andrew line up and position their guitars as if they were guns and shoot the audience by slapping the guitars in a rat a tat kind of pattern. They do a goosestep and repeat this shooting sequence, then, in time to the music, they do some false Teutonic laughter as if to say it's all a joke.

There is a skit here not mentioned in the Playbill: Michel jumps off the box and joins Sarah, who is angry at him. He sings "coo coo" and yodels, charming her and they go skipping off, holding hands.

Gretl's Cow

April wears a pink and blue high waisted dress and white knee socks; her long blond hair is in Germanic braids. She carries a bucket, sits on a stool and mimes milking a cow in time to guitar music played by Paul, Andrew and Nigel who are dressed as in Deutches Weinlied. April also moves her legs in time to the music and mimes getting milk squirted in her eye. As the guitars play faster and faster, April's eyes open wider and wider until eventually she is tugged off stage by invisible cow udders. Click here for a photo of April looking wonderfully cross milking the invisible cow, taken during the last weeks of the Sydney, Australia tour (photo coyright WAIT A MINIM).  Paul tells me (30 years after the fact!) that the tune was from a Volkswagen commercial that ran on South African radio. The lyrics (not in the show) were:

Volkswagen, Volkswagen, rushing up and down
Happy in the country, snappy in the town

So easy on repairs and so light on petrol too.

You will find the Volkswagen just the car for you.

You will find the Volkswagen just the car for you!

Eine kleine bombardonmusik

Nigel, Paul and Andrew goosestep on dressed as for Deutches Weinlied. Nigel plays guitar, Paul flute and Andrew clarinet. Nigel carries a music stand which he sets up.  Click here for a photo of Nigel, Andrew and Paul, taken during the last weeks of the Sydney, Australia tour (photo copyright WAIT A MINIM).

They start playing Mozart, clicking their heels at the musical pauses (Paul had metal pieces added to the side of his heels so that they would click louder), but trail off as Kendrew (similarly attired) arrives late with his tuba. They start again. They are standing so close together that Andrew's and Paul's hands get on each other's instruments, so they blow a sour note and start again. Ken keeps time by tapping his foot, expecting to join in, but there isn't a part for him. The others keep expecting him to play, as his mouth hovers expectantly near the lip of the tuba, but he never gets even a note out. At the end Paul, Nigel and Andrew goosestep off, leaving Ken poised over the tuba, waiting his cue. He takes a big breath and then doesn't play (blackout).

There is another skit here not mentioned in the Playbill which involves Dana, wearing a blue and white short gingham dress and carrying a bucket. She bends over to put down the bucket, wipes her face with a white handkerchief and smiles; one of those amazing bamboo screens comes along and she is magically replaced by Kendrew, dressed in his Tuba Man costume. He picks up the bucket, looks at the audience and goes off with it. Just a quick nonsensical non sequitur.


The cast is dressed as they were in Deutches Weinlied, but Kendrew and April are no longer wearing hats. Ken and April do an authentic traditional slapping dance which I believe is called Schuhplattler (Paul tells me they were taught by an expert, in keeping with the cast's formula to be technically correct at something before they made fun of it), in which April becomes increasingly annoyed that Kendrew slaps her on the backside and eventually she hauls off and smacks him. Andrew plays the tuba; Nigel the guitar and Paul the accordion.

A schweinerne wurst, und
          A frische mass bier

A schwartz-augats madel,

          Des schodet ma neit

Hola di ri a, hola di o Hola di ri a, hola di o
Hola di ri a, hola di o Hola di ri a, hola di o

A schweiner wurst, und
         A frische mass bier

A schwartz-augats madel,

          Des shodet ma neit

Hola di ri a, hola di o Hola di ri a, hola di o
Hola di ri a, hola di o Hola di ri a, hola di o

The song develops into a fight/tug of war in which everyone joins except the tuba player (Andrew). In the course of the fight Sarah gets bitten by Kendrew on the arm and by April on one of her braids. Suddenly everyone realizes the music is causing the fight and they turn menacingly on the tuba player and chase him offstage.

There is a followup to the earlier yodeling skit here. This time it is Sarah, who coo coos to Michel; he yodels his response, melting his anger, and once again they skip offstage together.

JOHNNY SOLDIER  (Click here for a YouTube version of JOHNNY SOLDIER)

Dana, lit from above so that her face is shadowed and sad, is dressed in a plain dark dress. Paul and Andrew are in ordinary basic costume.  When I saw this number in Boston, I was in the first row and could look into the wings to see Kendrew, already dressed in his Japanese costume and wig for the next bit, playing the trumpet; it looked very odd. Paul told me at one point they were going to have Ken come on and cry after this number, but I'm glad they didn't, because it's a very poignant song about longing for someone who has gone away to war.

To the accompaniment of Andrew on guitar, Michel on side drum and Kendrew on muted trumpet, Andrew, Paul, Nigel and Michel harmonized a reprise of the last line of each verse (as they once again quick-changed in the wings, Nigel now reveals!).

Sad I sit on Buttermilk Hill
Who could blame me cry my fill

And ev'ry tear could turn a mill

Johnny has gone for a soldier.

Me, oh my, I loved him so
Broke my heart to see him go

And only time can heal my woe

Johnny has gone for a soldier.

I'd dye my petticoat, I'd dye it red
And 'round the world I'd beg my bread

Till my parents wished me dead

Johnny has gone for a soldier.

I'd sell my clock, I'd sell my reel,
Likewise I'd sell my spinning wheel

To buy my love a sword of steel

Johnny has gone for a soldier.


Paul is in ordinary basic costume and accompanies himself on the guitar with great flourish. A good portion of the humor of this short item is the complete seriousness with which Paul performs it.

I asked her what her lips were for
While lying by the hedge.

She said they were to keep her mouth

From fraying at the edge.


Kendrew and April are in black wigs and kimonos; Ken's is purple and April's is a flowered print. April walks across stage, her arms hidden in her kimono sleeves, taking very mincing steps. She looks at her wrist watch, then rises onto her toes and hurries off. Kendrew enters and does the same thing.


Michel has on a bald wig and a striped kimono; Sarah has on a black wig and a checked kimono. Sarah kneels beside Michel and offers him tea, interrupting his song. He accepts the first cup. She interrupts his singing with a second cup, which he doesn't really want but is too polite to refuse. However, when she offers him a third cup, interrupting him yet again, he stuffs the teapot down her throat.

Snap Happy

April and Kendrew are dressed as in Out of Focus with cameras. They take photos of each other and the audience. One of the panels moves to reveal a rose. Ken pushes April away to get the first shot of it. She then pushes him. They push each other for a bit, and then Ken grabs the rose and throws it into the wings. They turn their backs on each other and pace off as if to duel. April turns first and "shoots" Ken with her flashbulb. April exits as Ken staggers around blindly.

There is another skit at this point not mentioned in the Playbill. Andrew and Nigel wear black head-pieces and kimonos. Andrew also wears round glasses. Nigel plays a gong and Andrew plays a flute. When Andrew tries to play Yankee Doodle, Nigel takes a large piece of adhesive tape and puts it over Andrew's mouth; he starts to exit, pleased. Ever resourceful, Andrew then plays Yankee Doodle on the flute with his nose. (During the Australian tour, he played Waltzing Mathilda.) Nigel hits the gong loudly and stalks off in disapproval.

The Gentle Art

The cast is dressed as in the previous Japanese skits except for Michel and Paul who each are bare chested, wear a bald wig and white floppy trousers; Paul in addition wears a bowler hat (an Oddjob reference from the Bond film GOLDFINGER; Paul throws the hat offstage and there's a muffled scream). Andrew plays a Shakuhachi flute, Nigel a Taiwanese Chinese zither (masquerading as a koto zither). Dana and Sarah are holding sake cups. This is a parody of two sumo wrestlers (although, this is, in fact, a karate match). Kendrew is the referee and begins the skit saying Ohayo gozaimas. He introduces the two opponents: Sumo Too Low (Michel, using a deep voice and slow movements) and Sumo So High (Paul using a high voice and quick movements).

As Ken explains each encounter using gibberish phrases, Paul takes an aggressive stance, challenging Mich by jumping toward him and shouting "Ati!". Mich responds by mimicking his stance, but instead of say "Ati", he sneezes, saying "Ah, choo", emphasizing the difference in their heights by sneezing directly into Paul's chest.

Paul pokes both his fingers into Michel's eyes and thows him over his left shoulder. Floundering like a turtle on his back, Michel gets his foot caught in his pants and they start to come down. Everyone onstage cracks up. When I saw this the first time, I really thought it was something inadvertent because everyone looked as if they were really cracking up, but as it turned out, it was staged. (Paul says years later people still come up to him and say they were in the audience the night Michel's pants fell down, not realizing it happened EVERY performance. Nigel recalls originally it did happen by mistake during the London run and brought down the house. Paul and Michel took 3 weeks of trying nightly until they got the timing right so that it looked like a genuine mistake.)

Once Michel recovers his trousers, Paul holds his arm out straight and Michel jumps for it, but can't reach it. He asks Paul to lower it. Paul does, but Michel misses and falls to the floor. Paul sits on him and then so does Ken, as Dana and Sarah, dressed in kimonos, arrive with a pot and some cups.

Kendrew, sipping from his cup,appreciatively says, "Ah, chock full of nuts!". (This was and still is a popular brand of American coffee; Paul thinks this closing remark of Ken's would be topical and change often, but in 18 times over 2 years, I only remember this one joke, although in Australia, he changed it to "Ah, nice cup of tea!").

DIRTY OLD TOWN   (Click here for a YouTube version of DIRTY OLD TOWN)

Andrew, Paul and Nigel are in ordinary basic costume; Paul and Andrew play guitars and Nigel plays a linguaphone (harmonica). (Paul, Andrew and Nigel all tell me "linguaphone" is just a joke - a word they liked at the time, but I like it too, so I hate to eliminate it. On the original South African MINIM cast recording, there's a number called "The Bold Logger" crediting a "mouth resonated linguaphone" which turned out to be Jew's harp!) Dana is in a black turtle neck shirt with black slacks.

Although the lyrics don't begin very beautifully, the ones in later verses sound just like poetry and the melody is very haunting. The way this was lit on stage, you somehow got the impression of an industrial town at night with the moon rising behind (although all the prompt script mentions is "lights bleed through the back drapes"). The way it was staged - with languid movements of the cast in relation to each other and the harmonica coming plaintively in - it was very moving. (Andrew reveals the town was meant to be Salford in Manchester and disagrees the initial lyrics aren't poetic as well.)

Andrew sings:

I left my love by the fact'ry wall
Dreamed a dream by the old canal

Kissed my love by the gas works' croft

Dirty old town, dirty old town.

Paul sings:

Smoke is drifting across the moon
Cats are prowling along their beat

Spring's a girl in the street at night

Dirty old town, dirty old town.

Dana sings:

I heard a siren from across the docks
Saw a train set the night on fire

Felt the breath of a smokey wind

Dirty old town, dirty old town.

Everyone sings:

I'm going to buy me a good sharp axe
Shining steel tempered in the fire

Cut you down like an old dead tree

Dirty old town, dirty old town,

Dirty old town, dirty old town.


This is just one of those numbers that you have to see to appreciate because there is no way to convey the humor by describing it.

The cast is dressed as follows: Kendrew, Andrew, Paul and Nigel are all in a long extra-large coats with English racing hats, like a street band of down and out tramps. Kendrew enters, whistling, half carrying, half dragging his tuba case. He opens it, takes out a trumpet and shoves the case off stage. He stamps his foot three times, and the others emerge behind him, Nigel with a trombone, Andrew with a clarinet and Paul with a tuba. They move very slowly playing loudly but in a lethargic tempo so you are unable to tell what the tune is; they look like a very dispirited Salvation Army band. They simply cross the stage from right to left and before they disappear, they sing a capella:

Let's twist again like we did last summer!

(The music they are playing so slowly it is unrecognizable is Let's Twist Again Like We Did Last Summer. Paul insists it is part of the musical joke to realize that, but I think it is funny just the way it is, when the tune is not revealed until they sing the lyric, by which time the whole bit is over and on to the next one. Plus I defy anyone to recognize the tune!)

There is another skit at this point not mentioned in the Playbill in which Kendrew, dressed in ordinary basic costume with a floppy beige hat, mimes chasing a fly. Offstage, Nigel plucks a guitar to indicate the buzz.

Ken registers something buzzing around his head; he removes his hat and uses it to try to hit the fly; then he drops the hat and jumps up, catching the fly in his bare hand. Carefully he sticks the fingers of his other hand into his fist to remove the fly. He gets it out and looks lovingly at it. He looks left and right and then he pops it into his mouth and swallows.

Ken was really a wonderful mime; he had a prominent (but attractive) nose and when he fixed his eye on something, he resembled a predatory bird. I always try to sit in the front row whenever I see a live show, and sometimes he would happen to look at me during this mime. He would lean his head forward and fix me with his eye and there would be a terrifying second or two before he would move his eyes in the direction of the imaginary insect.


Paul, Andrew, Michel and Nigel are in ordinary basic costume, plus berets. Paul plays the guitar. Michel, Andrew and Nigel sing the French lyrics and Paul sings the English translation. When they did this in Philadelphia, Paul sat on the lip of the stage with his feet in the audience, where I happened to be sitting, and he tickled me behind the knee with his bare foot during the whole song, while I tried to sit still and not squirm.

Earlier when I wrote that I wished the show had been taped on video for the enjoyment of future generations because of its timeless appeal, I had forgotten about this song, which would not be considered politically correct nowadays; it's about a young girl being molested by four strangers and enjoying it. (Andrew says that political correctness does not count because the song is French.)  Click here for a photo of Nigel and Andrew singing LALIRETTE, taken during the last weeks of the Sydney, Australia tour (photo copyright WAIT A MINIM).

Jeanneton prend sa faucille, lalirette, lalirette
          Little Jean took her sickle
Pour aller cueillir des joncs

          For to go and cut some flowers

En chemin elle le rencontre, lalirette, lalirette
          In the road, it's there she meets

Quatre jeunes et beaux garçons

          Four young men, very handsome.

Le premier, un peu timide, lalirette, lalirette
          The first one, a little bit shy

L'embrassa sur le menton

          He kissed her upon the chin

Le second, un peu moins sage, lalirette, lalirette
          The second one, not quite so nice

La coucha sur le gazon

          He laid her down upon the grass

Le troisieme, un intrepéde, lalirette, lalirette
          The third one, a very bad type
Souleva son blanc jupon
          He lifted up her white skirt

Ce que fit le quatrième, lalirette, lalirette
          The fourth one

N'est pas dit dans la chanson

          No, we won't tell you in this song.

Mais si vous le saviez, mesdames, lalirette, lalirette
          If you ladies only knew

Vous iriez cueillir des joncs

         You would cut some flowers too

La morale de cette histoire, lalirette, lalirette
          The moral of this story

C'est que les hommes sont des cochons

          Is that the men are just like pigs.

Et la morale de la morale, lalirette, lalirette
          The moral of this moral

C'est que les femmes aiment les cochons

          Is that the women, they love pigs.

There is another skit at this point not mentioned in the Playbill. Michel, Andrew, Nigel and Paul talk among themselves in French, making broad gestures. They see Sarah, who thinks she is the object of their discussion, but they look past her to where Kendrew comes on stage on a bicycle. Sarah stamps her foot in pique and goes off.

Ken stops to show off the bicycle. He was very slender and he looked a little bit like Icabod Crane when he came on in this outfit, a yellow T-shirt with the number 17 in red on the back; pink checked shorts, a baseball hat, ankle length socks and white sneakers. (Paul tells me the yellow shirt is the symbol of the leader of the Tour de France, an annual bicycle race, as big in France as the World Series is in the US.) The bike was a Carlton and it had a milk bottle and an air hose in the basket. Ken dances a sort of pas de deux with his bicycle; as he pumps air into his tire, he raises one of his legs straight back behind him, like some kind of exotic aquatic long legged bird. Paul, Andrew, Michel and Nigel admire the bike and call out enouragingly to Ken, but Ken spots Sarah and instead of continuing with the race, pedals off after her, as the men shout insults: "Imbicile".

Le roi a fait battre tambour

Michel, Andrew, Paul and Nigel wear ordinary basic costume and berets. Michel begins this number, as Andrew and Paul hum accompaniment. At first, Nigel just reiterates the last line of the first stanza Michel has sung; then he holds the last line of the next stanza much longer, greatly appreciating the effect; finally he just completely takes over the song. As Nigel sings, his voice gets more and more juicily French (a heavy tremolo, Paul calls it) until he's actually tugging on his Adam's apple to produce some of the strangulated sounds. The more French Nigel becomes, the more the other guys take a step away from him at each musical pause. The panel behind Michel, Andrew and Paul shares their wish to distance themselves from Nigel and moves with them each time.

The title means The King Has Had the Drum Beaten. (Andrew says this is a most beautiful song about a French marquis with a lovely young wife who had to give her up to the king by royal command. Very few of the actual verses were used.)

Michel sings:

Le roi a fait battre tambour
Le roi a fait battre tambour

Pour voir ses jolie dames

Et la première qu'il a vue

Lui a ravi son âme.

Nigel sings:

Lui a ravi son âme.

Marquis, marquis la connais tu?
Marquis, marquis la connais tu?
Qui est cette jolie dame?

Le marquis lui a repondu

Sire roi c'est ma femme.

Marquis tu es plus heureux que moi
Marquis tu es plus heureux que moi

D'avoir femme si belle

Si tu voulais me l'accorder

Je m'en chargerais d'elle

Tour de France

Paul, Andrew and Michel are dressed in ordinary basic costume and berets. Andrew plays the flute and Michel recites the words to a song called L'amour de Moi (My Love), a medieval song about love in a garden. Paul tells me this was a song he heard as a child at school sung by John Runge, whose performance ultimately inspired Paul's whole career (thank you, John Runge!).

April wears a white flimsy dress and dances with a rose. Click here for a photo of April taken during the last weeks of the Sydney, Australia tour (photo copyright WAIT A MINIM).  Kendrew (dressed as above in the preceding bicycle skit) rides on and does a complete circuit of the stage on his bike. He spots April, who is seductively plucking petals from a rose. Ken stops, laying the bike down. He walks to her, with his chest thrown out, responding to her come hither look; they dance a pas de deux. Mid-dance, Ken looks over his shoulder at the bike; the Tour de France race calls to him. He puts April down, walks over to the bike. He checks the pressure in a tire; it needs pumping, so he plugs in the air hose and pumps it up (all to the music). He looks up and sees April, smelling the rose; they dance some more. Eventually, she leaps into his arms and he carries her romantically offstage and then you hear a huge clatter. Ken comes back, dusting off his hands, gets on his bike and rides off in the opposite direction while Michel, Andrew and Paul shout after him: Assassin!

L'amour de moi s'y est enclosé
Dedans un joli jardinet

Ou croit la rose et le muguet

Et aussi fait la passerose.

Ce jardin est bel et plaisant,

Il est garni de toute fleurs.


This is another Jeremy Taylor original number. Paul said that people around the world couldn't believe the cast was allowed to perform this on stage in South Africa, but they were. Nigel wears ordinary basic costume and accompanies himself on the guitar.  Click here for a photo of Nigel singing this, taken in the last week of the MINIM tour in Sydney, Australia (photo copyright of WAIT A MINIM).

When the white man first came here from over the sea
He looked and he said, "This is God's own country".

He was mighty well pleased with this land that he found

And he said, "I will make here my own piece of ground".

Now, many's the battle he still had to fight
And many's the fam'ly who died in the night;

'Cause many were the black men who lived all around,

All of them wanting their own piece of ground.

So, northward he trekked and northward he rode
Over veld and tough countryside onward he strode.

In the Free State and the Transvaal his oxen outspanned

And he planted the seed in his own piece of land.

Then one fine day in eighteen eighty-three
Gold was discovered in good quantity

Now the country was rich, much richer than planned

And each digger wanted his own piece of land.

Now this land is so rich and it seems strange to me
That the black man whose labor has helped it to be

Cannot enjoy the fruits that abound,

Is uprooted and kicked from his own piece of ground.

Now, some people say, "Don't you worry;
You can always find jobs in the white man's city

But don't stay too long and don't stay too deep,

Or you're bound to disturb the white man in his sleep."

White man, don't sleep long and don't sleep too deep
Or your life and possessions how long will you keep?

'Cause I've heard a rumor that's running around

That the black man's demanding his own piece of ground.

AYAMA   (Click here for the YouTube version of AYAMA)

Ayama is just a phonetic way of saying "I am a". Kendrew wears a Basuto hat and a striped blanket; Paul wears a safari jacket, khaki shorts and a khaki hat with a leopard skin band. Andrew and Michel are in ordinary basic costume.

Paul and Andrew play guitars. Andrew sings of being a stranger and not knowing even where he comes from while Paul and Michel ask him where he came from, so they seem to be speaking at cross purposes. Eventually Kendrew just goes slowly off stage without ever showing his face. I guess I never really understood this particular number, unless it is about lack of communication due to not speaking the same language.

(Nigel comments that this song really has no purpose - it is just a very peaceful African township song which, like a river, seems to have no beginning and no end.) Andrew says this was a song he learned from a Nigerian record by Roy Chicago which had only one verse; Andrew added the second and third plus a "bit of Sotho". He says the appeal is the two contrasting guitar parts and explains this number also served to introduce the African sequence which closes the First Act.

Ayama stranger, ayama stranger
I don't know where I come from, Mama.
Ayama stranger, I don't know where I come from

I don't know where I'm going to, Mama.

We see you a stranger, we see you a stranger
Tell us where you come from, stranger.

We see you a stranger, tells us where you come from

Tell us where you're going to, stranger.

We see you a stranger, we see you a stranger
          I don't know, Mama, I don't know, Mama
Tell us where you come from, stranger
          I don't know where I come from, Mama.

          No, I don't know, Mama
Gakitsi mokihlahang teng.

We see you a stranger, tell us where you come from,
          No, I don't know, Mama

Tell us where you're going to, stranger
          I don't know where I'm going to, Mama.

Professor Piercing/The Chairman

Paul wears a pith helmet, safari jacket, khaki shorts and gumboots. He's sort of a caricature of a hearty British colonial type who doesn't really know exactly what's going on, but is full of enthusiasm.

Nigel wears a bowler hat, a T-shirt with a black clock on it; covered with a white sheet that has red crosses on it. He also wears gumboots.  Click here for a photo of Nigel as the Chairman and Paul as Professor Piercing, taking during the last weeks of the Sydney, Australia tour (photo copyright WAIT A MINIM).

Nigel (in a frightfully British accent): Ladies and gentlemen, as Chairman of the London branch of the ASPCA - Another Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Africans - I should like to say at this point that, although our activities...(Paul clatters noisily on at this point) On my left we have Professor Piercing, our Treasurer.

Paul: I'm sorry I'm late. (Paul has a kind of whistling speech impediment).

Nigel: I should like to say at this point that, although our activities have been confined in the past to the occasional rally to protest against the South African policy of appetite, we've been somewhat hampered by the fact that so few of us have had any, shall I say, direct experience of the black man as such. In consequence of this, we decided to make a safari, as it were, into the heart of the Dark Continent and try and find out for ourselves something more of the culture of our African brethren - I'm sorry, am I talking too fast for those you taking notes? (looking up to balcony seats) Alright up top? Splendid! - Now, our team, of which I was fortunate enough to be a member, had a jolly exciting trip, during which time we visited such independent states as Ghana, Nigeria and Rhod-- other points south. Most of us returned. We hope that what we're about to show you now will demonstrate for you the motto of our Society, which is "Togetherness"

Paul: ...at any price!

Nigel: God save the Queen!

(When the show was in Washington, Nigel added: Oh, and Lynda Bird Johnson, too. He would vary this ad lib according to who was in the news lately or if any celebrity happened to be in the audience. The failure to complete the word "Rhodesia" was a political reference that went completely over my head until Nigel explained that Rhodesia had recently made its "Unilateral Declaration of Independence" which made it politically incorrect to be mentioned in the same breath as Ghana and Nigeria.)

Mgeniso waMgodo waShambini

Andrew reveals Mgeniso waMgodo waShambini means "entry (Mgeniso) movement from the orchestral dance composed by Shambini" (his first teacher of the Chopi xylophone, which Andrew learned between the end of MINIM in South Africa and the opening of MINIM BILI there - a period of about 6 weeks).

Andrew wears a Basuto hat and gumboots with a sheet tied over him. Paul is in his Professor Piercing outfit, while Nigel is in his Chairman outfit. Dana and Sarah are in grey skirts with red tops; they have scarves on their heads and wear gumboots. April is wearing a turkey feather bustle rather like an enormous feather duster on her behind, a black bolero covered in Ndebele multicolored bead work, similarly beaded black panelled skirt and a tall black starched scarf on her head. Michel is in his Ndinosara Nani outfit and is knitting! The men (except Michel) play Chopi timbilas while the girls dance and play rattles.

During April's dance, which allows her to shake the feather duster on her tush, she mimes stepping in an imaginery mess. She stands up, cleans her foot, and exits rather sheepishly. Mich rushes forward with a brush and pan from where he's been knitting and cleans up the mess (sometimes he would slip on it as well).

Wani zavala wakumusiya kadeya

Kupwata nekulonga chindodani

          We chileni

Kupwata nekusalani zavala

Atsula msahoni ne reshiboa

Inawona mihumbo

At the end of the number, Paul puts down the timbila mallets and comes forward:

Paul: What an exciting sound! That was the Chopi xylophone. Now, these instruments have hitherto never been played before on the American stage. Tonight we played you a snatch of a tune from Portuguese East Africa. (he does a couple of steps of the Gumboot Dance here) And now we'd like to demonstrate for you the Gumboot Dance. Here we go. (He does a couple more Gumboot Dance steps here, managing to look really funny). There are many, many variations on this dance. Here, I'll show you another step. (He does a single stomp). See, there you are! (Kendrew comes on stage, blowing a referee's whistle in time to his steps) Splendid, here he comes. We picked up this Gumboot Dance from the Baca tribe in Johannesburg.

The Izicatulo Gumboot Dance

This is a rhythmic dance, based on traditional solo step dancing, spontaneously created by Natal dockworkers who were issued gumboots for their jobs and discovered their percussive qualities. Andrew reveals that, not long after MINIM opened in Johannesburg, another show opened with an all black cast. At one point during that show, somone attempted to do some gumboot steps and another character quipped: "You want to do gumboots, you better go watch WAIT A MINIM!". Andrew learned some of the steps from dancers on the gold mines and some from dancers who appeared in Jamie Uys' film DINGAKA. He got the rhythm from records his father had produced.

The cast is dressed as in Mgeniso WaMgodo waShambini plus Kendrew in a red vest, black slacks with a gold stripe down the side and gumboots. Also arm bands with feathers.  The cast forms a line and begins to stomp; as Andrew calls out the patterns, they bend down and slap either their right or left gumboot in unison; it is very fast moving and exciting to watch. The boots are strung with rattles made with imifece moth cocoons and this adds an additional rattling sound. Part of the dance step is the cast coming toward the audience as they slap their boots, and it was just a lot of fun to watch.  The girls wiggle their butts as they circle the men; April has a sort of feather duster on her rear end.

Michel was in charge of teaching the new cast members this dance; he tried to teach me, but I am so unmusical, it was hopeless. When he said left, I couldn't remember whether I was supposed to pick up my foot or stomp it. The sheet music for this, instead of having lyrics, has Ls and Rs, which Paul has annotated as follows:

L = Left foot stamp
R = Right foot stamp
LR = Land hand on right boot
RL = Right hand on right boot
LL = Left hand on left boot
RL = Right hand on left boot

The entrance is: L R L R L R L R, etc.

The first pattern is called Lefu laiti and goes L RR LR R RL L RR LR R RL LL clap RL LL L RR, R

The second pattern is called Saluti and goes L R clap/feet-together R L LR R RL L

LR clap/feet-together R L LR R L

Then pattern 1 is repeated and the finale is: clap LL L clap RR R clap LL L clap RR R clap LL L RR LR R RL LL L clap and everyone shouts "Ha!"

Andrew is critical of my transposition of the above from one of the few hunks of sheet music from MINIM I have been able to secure. However, this is as close as I can come without reproducing the actual sheet music. Specifically, Andrew rightly points out the above lacks rhythmic or metric units. He explains the space of time taken by two foot beats should be taken as a unit and marked accordingly, so I hope all of you potential gumboot dancers have noted this.

The cast got to do this on the ED SULLIVAN SHOW.

After the Lefu laiti part of the dance, Paul says: "Exhilirating!"

Kupura Kupika

Andrew reveals this is a Cewa woman's song from Malawi where she complains of a woman's lot, basically saying: Grinding and cooking and eating and sewing are all a woman ever does. Munyaka's child, all he does is cry. Andrew plays the Limba, a one- note xylophone from Eastern Zambia.

This number is performed between the two patterns of the Gumboot Dance, (which is quite a short dance). Dana, Sarah and April move forward past the men and circle around them. Dana and Sarah sing:

Kupura, kupika na kudya na kundeuna
          Hende, ahee

Kupura, kupika na kudya na kundeuna

          Hende ahee

Ahe, mwana wa munyako

Mwana wa munyako mporewa

          Kurira mporewa wa ndaiko

          Hende, ahee mwanaga

          Hende ahee

Ahe mwanaga

          Hende ahee

          Hende ahee

          Hende ahee

Mwana wa munyako mporewa kurira mporewa ndaiko

          Ahee mwananga.

After this song comes the Saluti part of the Gumboot Dance, during which Kendrew continues to slap his boots while the others stop.  Realizing this, he sings out, "Oh, I could have danced all night". Then he dances a couple steps with April and calls out: "Hey, Andrew, one more time with my wife". I can't explain why this was funny, but it cracked me up every time; I expect it was the way Ken delivered the line.

The Gumboot Dance provided a very boisterous and exciting finish to the first act. The curtain came down as Kendrew would raise his arms over his head and shout, "Half time!"

click here to go to Act II

click here to go to MINIM overview

October 2012:   Nigel came across some black and white photos taken during the 1968 Australian tour, and I have uploaded them here.


internet tracking stats