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GRUBB – The Musical Everyone Should See
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GRUBB – The Musical Everyone Should See

Two years ago I was introduced to the choreographer Natalie Meyjes and her work with a group of Roma youngsters in Serbia. Natalie was working alongside the team at RPoint, providing dance workshops and theatre tuition as part of educational programmes for some of the most vulnerable young people in Europe.

Now, after four years, the youngsters are performing a musical of their own, led by the renowned director Serge Denoncourt. I was invited to The O2 in London to see their first international show. Perhaps I’m biased but I think the rest of the audience would join me in describing it as brilliant.

 

GRUBB, which stands for Gipsy Roma Urban Balkan Beats, is a collective of young Roma (14-18 year olds) and international artists. Their strapline – ‘because we are not the gypsies you think we are’ – echoes throughout the heartfelt production, which delivers the kind of emotional rollercoaster you would expect from a West End stage. Glimpses into the tragic history of the Roma are juxtaposed with superb street dance routines, acting debuts from cheeky characters and funny sketches that turn negative stereotypes on their heads in breakdance fashion. They combine a brass band and exceptional vocals, with a hip hop twist on their mission to ‘bring Roma music storming into the 21st Century’.

 

The GRUBB website reminds us that ‘indifference kills more people than all the bombs in the world’ and their story reflects universal themes that connect us all, regardless of country of origin, religion or circumstance – from the need for the basics like clean water, education and employment to first love and our endless desire to win the affection of that sweetheart.

At the end of the show, a carnival-style procession led the entire audience into the foyer where songs continued and as people smiled and cheered there were also several tears twinkling. Some belonged to those who, having worked on this project for years, were finally watching their hard work come to fruition; others were just so moved by these kids with their overwhelming talent and contagious energy and optimism.

 

Last week it was Refugee Week in the UK and immigration figures continue to hit the headlines. The consciousness-raising entertainment that GRUBB provides has never been more needed. I hope politicians watch this show too because every young person must be given a chance to flourish.

Follow GRUBB on Twitter (@grubbmusicc) as they travel the globe. Next stop Montreal Jazz festival!

Images from Alice Woodroffe, UK Project Manager – Rpoint Productions CIC/The GRUBB Collective