Stomp at the Pantages Theatre - A Smashing, Slammming, Stomping Sensation

Stomp, the international percussion sensation, has tapped, clicked, snapped, drummed, hit, smashed, cracked, slammed, banged, crashed, and kicked its way into Los Angeles at the Pantages Theatre! The eight-member troupe uses everything but the kitchen sink (wait....including the kitchen sink) as percussion instruments: matchboxes, wooden poles, rubber tubes, brooms, garbage cans, lighters, hubcaps, plungers, newspaper, plastic bags, trash, their own bodies, and let's not forget the kitchen sink. The calculating creativity, terrific timing, riveting rhythm, and mind-blowing beats prove that this show is truly a phenomenon that will continue to entertain audiences of all ages for years to come. 

  

Stomp is the astoundingly successful result of a ten year collaboration between its creators, Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas. It is a unique combination of percussion, movement, and visual comedy. From its humble beginnings as a street performance in the United Kingdom, Stomp has sky-rocketed into international stardom with one North American touring company, two productions overseas, and has performed in 350 cities in 36 countries worldwide. The show has also garnered an armful of awards including the Oliver Award for Best Choreography, a New York Obie Award, a Drama Desk Award for Unique Theatre Experience, and a Special Citation for Best Play. Stomp boasts an impressive list of talented dancers and percussionists: Shola Cole, Leilani Dibble, Andres Fernandez, Khalid Freeman, Billy Hickling, Louis Labovitch, Lorraine Le-Blanc, Noah Mosgoflan, Jeremy Price, Chris Fabian Rufio, and Stephen "Wacki" Serwacki. 

The stage was overflowing with random objects from saws to snowboards to buckets. There was room for everything but the conventional percussion instruments and conventional thought. The stage was transformed into a busy street in a large metropolitan city like New York or LA, complete with a chainlink fence, industrial-sized trash cans, and old road signs. Steve McNicholas and Neil Tiplady effectively light the junk set of pots, pans, hubcaps, ladders, street signs and other pilfered items one would find on the street or perhaps nearby a construction site.

Nothing on stage was used for its traditional purpose. A newspaper was not meant to be read, but rubbed. A cough was not meant to clear one's throat, but added to a baseline. Hubcaps were not meant for cars, but served as symbols to make an attention-grabbing, heart-stopping crash. Brooms were not meant to sweep, but to pound and swoosh. At one point, four performers hung from the top of the chainlink fence on the second level with rock climbing harnesses! They stomped, kicked, and banged the fence and all of its attachments like propane tanks and fire extinguishers. In true Stomp fashion, they used everything within grasp to its maximum musical potential. In addition to the sounds made with the fence and the attached objects, the performers used their body weight and momentum to bounce from side to side, flip, and bend backwards, forwards, and sideways.  

The performers, at first glance, appeared to be blue-collar workers, sweeping, cleaning, and teasing each other like old pals. They wore paint-stained jeans, t-shirts, and construction boots. Once the rhythm began pounding through the performers' veins, the "average joe" personas melted away to reveal ingenious percussionists and dancers. The two women were just "one of the guys" taunting the boys just as much as the boys taunted them. This friendly, playful, and unspoken rapport was indeed essential to the comedic element of the show. An annoyed glance to the audience was just as powerful and effective as the cacophony produced by the slamming of two hubcaps. It was evident that the performers were having fun! The chemistry between these on-stage buddies was flawless. Their facial expressions and body language fired witty banter back and forth like pistols. Akin to the music without the traditional musical instruments, the performers used everything they had but words to communicate with each other and the audience. There was no need for words when the disappointed, "Hey! Where did they all go?!" look spread across the face of Fernandez. The audience had no trouble hearing the clever conversations that resided underneath the performers' body language. This light-hearted, casual, and comical vibe sucked the audience right into their rhythmical world where everything was a source of music.

We, the audience, absolutely fell in love with the performers and their musical, dance, and mimed performances. The intoxicating beats and awe-inspiring movements had us clapping, snapping, smiling, laughing, and stomping in our seats! We were sent home with the sweet sounds of broom bristles and lighters ringing in our ears. Now that I am home, nothing is as it seems. The drip of the faucet, the click of the nob on the washing machine, the typing of my fingers on the keyboard...everything has a beat. In the world of Stomp, everything is a source of music. What a wonderful, wonderful world!

Photographs courtesy of Junichi Takahashi. For more information on Stomp, click here.

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