Enduring Shows That Still Pack In the Crowds
In the Hands of 'Stomp,' Everyday Objects Become the Makings of a Symphony
BOSTON — 'Stomp" beckons you to be a little kid again. Remember when your parents gave you pots and pans to bang on New Year's?
Brooms scraping the floor, hubcaps clanging, matchboxes shaking, even plastic bags crumpling can all be part of an exercise in rhythm - or, as in the case of "Stomp," an exhilarating theater experience.
Think drum-and-bugle corps, but without the bugles and drumming on anything but traditional drums - all choreographed into an exquisite percussion sensation.
As co-founder Luke Cresswell says, we "make a rhythm out of anything we can get our hands on that makes a sound."
"This show keeps you on the edge of your seat," remarked Carol Campomizzi after seeing "Stomp" for the first time in Boston. "It had rhythm, it was funny, and very creative."
"Stomp" has come a long way since the act gained ground in the United Kingdom in the 1980s and premired at the Edinburgh Festival in 1991. Today, it claims sellout performances worldwide, numerous theater awards, commercials, movie soundtracks, and an appearance at last year's Academy Awards. (An HBO special featuring its work is scheduled to air Dec. 6 at 8 p.m.) The company has branched into several troupes, one of which is now stomping across the United States.
But what's behind the enduring appeal of "Stomp" is not just its uncanny ability to deliver timely percussion in compelling and innovative ways. It is its playfulness. One number features three men wearing ski boots fitted to oil drums - almost a huge version of tin-can stilts.
Troupe members often pantomime small plots and express emotions. If five people sit down to read newspapers, one might start making noise with his. Those around him frown, looking at him as if he's some sort of street freak. But before you know it, one of the onlookers starts his own rhythm, and one by one the others follow suit.
The end result is a syncopated newspaper symphony. It's as if to say everyone has an individual rhythm, and rhythm is irresistible - thus the ripple effect.
"There was no speaking, and it held my attention for an hour and a half," marveled Lynn Alexandrowicz after a recent performance. "I enjoyed the audience participation and the humor. I would see it again."
The appeal crosses all generations. At one point, one of the eight "Stomp" members was, in essence, playing his body. He clapped his hands, slapped his legs, stomped his feet, but when he turned around to play his fanny, one child in the audience let out a delightfully high-pitched giggle, which made the rest of the audience laugh. The "Stomp" member responded by whirling back around and looking surprised, trying hard to suppress his own smile.
* 'Stomp' troupes are touring North America and parts of Australia, New Zealand, and Europe over the next six months. Dates include Boston, through Jan. 4; Tucson, Ariz., Dec. 2-3; Escondido, Calif., Dec. 5-7; Honolulu, Dec. 16-Jan. 4; Cincinnati, Jan. 6-11; Seattle, Jan. 6-18; Greensboro, N.C., Jan 16-18; Erie, Pa., Jan. 20-21; Edmonton, Alberta, Jan. 20-25; Portland, Ore., Jan. 27-Feb. 1; and Wilkes-Barre, Pa., Jan. 30-Feb. 1.
For more information, check its Web site: www.usinteractive.com/stomp/
It Takes Only a Week For 'Stomp' To Go Through:
40 gallons of water
2 gallons of floor paint
6 wooden poles
30 pounds of sand
7 mop heads
1 fire bucket
10 garbage can lids
2 hatchet handles
4 wheel rims
8 fist-sized chunks of chalk
4 roles of gaffer tape
6 disposable ice picks
6 hammer handles
THESE TAKE A BIT LONGER:
1 stainless-steel sink with draining board every three months
1 oil drum every two months
8 ski boots every four months