Lauri Lyster in The Drummer Girl

A girl who took up drumming in school, now a woman looking back on her professional musical career, Lauri Lyster is The Drummer Girl, with stories to tell and music to play. She does both for two hours and keeps the audience entertained throughout her journey.

The fact that drums are not a common instrument for a woman to play lends to some funny stories along her career path. Lyster, with her acerbic sense of humour and her self-proclaimed control issues, finds herself in some comical predicaments. The stories of her drumming escapades are linked together via musical pieces.

Lyster is accompanied by a five-piece band including her husband Simon Stribling, an accomplished jazz musician (trumpet/saxophone). The rest of the band (bassist Rene Worst, mandolinist/vocalist Kat Wahamaa, keyboard/vocalist Brenda Baird, saxophonist/clarinetist Ben Henriques) are all extremely talented and the music performed is mostly in the early jazz style with a few original works by Lyster.

To give the performance a sense of time and storyline, Lyster, dressed in standard black tights and tank top, changes her outer layer to reflect the tale at hand.

Lauri Lyster in The Drummer Girl

Some of the costumes such as the housecoat and the hippie skirt are successful but others don’t seem to make much of an impact. The style of storytelling is very casual and familiar, successfully helping the audience connect with Lyster but at times (especially towards the end) becoming a bit sloppy. I wanted to scream out to tell Lauri to stop flicking her hair. Lyster should be commended for producing, writing, directing and designing the entire show.

As this is the second run of the play, I’d suggest that she give some of her control away and ask for input to make this performance that much tighter and cohesive. The band members were in a semi-circle, pushed to the rear of the stage with Lyster on the side. I don’t know if it was done for acoustic purposes, but I think a smaller circle surrounding the drums would have provided a more suitable intimate surrounding at Firehall Arts Centre. I would also suggest that the dancing in one of the numbers be cut. It really didn’t add anything to the story or to the music.

After seeing The Drummer Girl, the audience leaves inspired to look at their own life paths, nothing more than a string of stories, perhaps a wealth of experiences that often derive from a road less travelled. At the end of the show, Lyster concludes, “I hope you find your own groove”. The Drummer Girl provides the soundtrack for this groove with some entertaining stories along the way.

Lauri also teaches adult beginner level hand drumming and percussion workshops at her home studio in Whistler, and has taught classes and workshops to kids and adults for over 25 years. She additionally taught children’s group piano classes at Tom Lee Music and was the International Education Consultant for Yamaha Canada for many years.

The Drummer Girl continues at Firehall Arts Centre through February 22.

Photos by Rod Matheson.

About Our Contributor MJ Ankenman

MJ Ankenman

MJ moved to Vancouver in 2005 and has been keeping busy ever since, enjoying all that the West coast has to offer, sharing discoveries through her writing and photography. MJ’s interests include yoga, biking, hiking, and enjoying BC wine. Follow MJ on Twitter @urbanista.

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