Irvine Barclay Theatre

Timeless Drums and Spectacular Costumes in a High-Energy Extravaganza

GuGu Drum Group from Shanghai showcases China’s rich history through rhythm.

GuGu Drum Group from Shanghai on YouTube

Irvine Barclay Theatre
4242 Campus Drive, Irvine CA | 949.854.4646

GuGu Drum Group from Shanghai
Sunday, May 21, 2017 at 4pm
Tickets: $35, $40, $45, $55

Kids and Students:  $17.50, $20, $22.50, $27.50

With the timeless drum movements dating back to the emperors of ancient Chinese dynasties, this award-winning drum group from Shanghai showcases China’s rich history through rhythm.

Featuring theatrical drum vignettes and colorful costumes, GuGu Drums tell traditional Chinese proverbs, fables and fairy tales using instruments from small finger cymbals to large standing drums.

This high-energy extravaganza is a sure-fire bet to entertain audiences of all ages!


This award-winning and top-rated drum group from Shanghai offers a theatrical drum drama depicting historical and culturally significant drum compositions that present profound insight into unity, human evolution, awareness, wisdom, social commitment and communication through percussive movements.

Director Yang Xiaodong and his authentic ancient drum movements, as well as the actual ancient drums themselves, represent a powerful lineage of drum movements dating back to the times of the emperors of the Chinese dynasties. This moving presentation, employing a contemporary approach, has been featured at many outdoor festivals and arts centers throughout China. The show features drum vignettes based on timeless Chinese proverbs, fables and fairy tales.

This performance uses traditional Chinese drums, and the traditional percussive vocabulary of these ancient instruments, paired with modern percussion techniques famous just outside of Shanghai.


Yang Xiaodong

King Qin & His Troops (6 minutes, 30 seconds)
Composers: Wang Baocan and Jing Jianshu

A harsh wind blows from the west. During the Tang Dynasty, more than 1300 years ago, the King prepares his troops for the first Northern Expedition in order to surround and destroy the enemy camp.

Bull & Tiger (6 minutes)
Composer: Wang Guojie

The two animals "meet," "play" and "fight." 

Women Generals of Yang Family (5 minutes, 18 seconds)
Composer: Zhang Lie

The Yang Palace is burdened with grief. The women of the Yang family face their enemy after losing most of their men in battle. Together, the women gain strength and confidence as they defend the national spirit of heroism and patriotism.

The Wedding of the Mice (4 minutes, 45 seconds)
Composer: Hao Shixun

A comedic fairy tale about the wedding of two mice. In Chinese culture, it is said that December 3rd is the wedding day of the rat (according to the Chinese zodiac based on the lunar calendar). On this day, every year, a group of elves and mice quietly play music on the decorated road, beating drums to commemorate the blessed event. They are overjoyed by the spirit of the celebration when, suddenly, a giant cat appears.

Dragon Drum (6 minutes, 30 seconds)
Composer: Anonymous

The brute force and rhythm of the great dragon is vigorous and brave. The spirit of the dragon brings out the true colors, celebrating the bravery of Chinese men.

Boatmen on the Yellow River (6 minutes, 15 seconds)
Composer: Zhang Lie 

This drum symphony with song features the voices of men and the drum. As they make their way to the Bohai Sea, the boatmen work together to brave the powerful waters of the Yellow River.

The Yellow River or Huáng Hé is the third-longest river in Asia, following the Yangtze River and Yenisei River, and the sixth-longest in the world at the estimated length of 3,400 miles long with a water discharge of nearly 100,000 cubic feet per second from Bayan Har Mountains, which is where the river begins.

Translation of the Chinese Lyric

“The Yellow River is the Mother River to China, an endless life source and a true inspiration for all Chinese people. We celebrate the power and the beauty of the glorious water pathway. The brave boatmen of China make their way on the Yellow River to the mouth of the Bohai Sea.”

Rolling Walnuts (4 minutes)
Composer: Wang Baocan

The Walnut tree tells people when it is harvest time. The tree branches drop their ripe nuts onto the rooftops of the homes and temples in the village. The late autumn breeze causes the walnuts to roll playfully; and the girls dance and try to catch them as they celebrate the joy of the harvest.

Golden Pheasant Plays on the Hill (4 minutes, 15 seconds)
Composer: Tian Longxin

The lively rhythm and vivid expression the magical golden pheasant makes as it moves down the steep hillside, enjoying the charming scenery landscape along the way.

Nuo (5 minutes, 10 seconds)
Composer: Yang Leiheng

Nuo uses the Duan Gong, which is used in the ceremonies of farmers throughout China. It is a famous drum drama descending from the ancient folk traditions of China. It is said to be a formal percussive prayer to God, petitioning for the blessing of rain to support a good harvest, and also to dispel disaster and scare away any spirit that would prevent good weather and a good harvest.

Finale (12 minutes, 20 seconds)

In a playful, contemporary scene, the encore celebrates the percussion and drum styles of the Western world along with drum styles from each of the countries in East Asia, including China. The audience is also welcome to join in the fun.


George Boyd (Production Stage Manager). In New York, Mr. Boyd directed the original productions of As Is; staged managed Lily Tomlin in Appearing Nitely on Broadway; Bette Midler’s Clams on the Half Shell Revue; Lorelei starring Carol Channing; and Enrico IV starring Rex Harrison. He wrote and directed Woody Guthrie: His Life, Times and Music off-Broadway; and stage managed the first national company of Beauty and the Beast in Los Angeles and La Bella y la Bestia in Mexico City, performed entirely in Spanish. For KMP, he stage managed James Gavin’s Stormy Weather; the Lena Horne project starring Mary Wilson/Freda Payne; and Rex Reed’s Ira Gershwin: Words without Music. He is currently touring with the SEOP Dance Company from South Korea, as well as with the GuGu Drum Group of Shanghei. In 1989, he directed the American contingent at the First International Festival of the Arts in Shenzhen and Shanghai, China. When the police canceled their performances in Beijing, he proudly demonstrated with the students in Tiananmen Square. He has toured with Shirley MacLaine, Lena Horne, and Tony Orlando and Dawn. Currently living, again, in Texas, he has directed Little Shop of Horrors and the world premieres of All Hallowed, The Lady Revealed and The Diver’s Wife, as well as Beehive, Smokey Joe’s Cafe, Crowns, a gospel musical starring Freda Payne, and most recently, Ring of Fire, the Johnny Cash musical.

Joshua Cutler (Lighting Designer) has worked in film, television, and live performance for over 15 years. His work has been seen on PBS, CNN, Yahoo!, NBC Sports, and on stages across the county. He received his MFA in stage design from Southern Methodist University in 2012 and is currently based in New York City. (

KMP Artists (International Producer & Tour Manager). KMP has been a tour management firm and production company for live cultural arts since 2004. KMP endeavors to provide programming for broad audiences in genres that include dance, theater, family and music programs. KMP also offers visual arts exhibits and residency programs. KMP is committed to international exchange by touring exceptional projects from around the globe that stimulate conversation and encourage mutual understanding, with a particular focus on work found around the Pacific Rim. (