The family-friendly musical phenomenon that is SAMAJAM > YOU Are The Show is coming to Markham Theatre for one public performance on Oct. 14 at 2 p.m.
“When SAMAJAM performs, we’re not just putting on a show,” explains SAMAJAM founder and creator Louis Bellemare. “We’re creating a collective celebration—a vibrant communion that reverberates in every community and country we visit.”
Bellemare founded the SAMAJAM Percussion School in 1994, offering classes in African percussion, Brazilian percussion, Latin percussion, and Gumboot percussive dance to adults and children. The school has since grown to become the largest percussion school in Canada.
“To simply say that SAMAJAM is the greatest passion of my life would be a profound understatement, explains Bellemare. “My 20-year journey with SAMAJAM is underpinned by the unshakeable belief that music is an extraordinary force that has the power to transcend borders, cultures, and unify people.”
It was this belief that led Bellemare to branch out, first to corporate team team and community building and then, to interactive musical performances.
“The SAMAJAM experience is intentionally designed to be not just deeply entertaining, but also unifying and educational,” he explains. “This applies not only to the general public but also extends to schools and the corporate world.
SAMAJAM > YOU are the Show is designed more purposely for youth and has been touring since 2017. It has the SAMAJAM ethos at its core, but it is tailored more directly to young people and families.
Audience members can expect to be actively involved in a collective, interactive and intense musical experience of 75 minutes. There will be a SAMAJAM music bag placed under every seat with three percussion instruments in it specially designed for the show. After quickly learning to play them collectively, the show is underway. No prior musical skills are necessary, only enthusiasm.
“They will be led by SAM & AJAM, two international SAMAJAM artists,” continues Bellemare. “These experienced professionals will guide the audience through the experience, ensuring an electrifying and truly memorable atmosphere.”
There’s also the inclusion of SAMAJAM musical video games played collectively on screens by the audience. This innovative technology offers yet another dimension to audience interaction and engagement with the aim of making a truly unforgettable collective musical experience.
“Audiences leave a SAMAJAM show with so much more than just a memory of a fun and entertaining performance,” says Bellemare. “They often experience a sense of connection, not just with the performers on stage, but also with everyone around them. This is the power of our 100 per cent participative approach; it makes them integral parts of a collective musical celebration.”
This effect is by design too. The show is built around the rhythms and melodies of 8 distinct regions around the globe. By encouraging the audience to engage in the musical traditions from such a diverse array of music, the show is able to access a larger cultural diversity in an attempt to foster a tangible curiosity that sparks a genuine desire to delve deeper.
“Beyond the sense of unity and connection, we see a palpable joy that emanates from each participant,” Bellemare explains further. “A kind of elation that comes from tapping into their own creative powers and expressing themselves through the universal language of music.”
The proof may well be in the numbers too. After more than 1,500 performances and 1 million tickets sold worldwide, SAMAJAM > YOU are the Show is easily the #1 participatory music show touring the world.
Brought to Markham for about a week of free performances for school kids on a grant from the Markham Theatre’s Discovery program, theatre general manager Eric Lariviere was excited to be able to open a show up to the general public on Oct. 14 at 2 p.m.
“This is such a great opportunity for families and friends to enjoy an incredible experience at the theatre,” says Lariviere.
“Come experience SAMAJAM, a thrilling, super energizing musical adventure where YOU become the star,” adds Bellemare. “Together, we will collectively and actively create and perform while awakening your inner artist like you’ve never imagined.”
Visit markhamtheatre.ca for more information.