A long time ago, before computers, before even the horse and buggy, or the first piano, human beings drummed. We played drums to celebrate, to mourn, to communicate to other tribes. The drums were part of every culture. "Stomp," now playing at the Fox Theater, reminds us of that.
I grew up going to the theater to see beautifully dressed people dance and sing, in a make believe world that didn't exist once we left the theater. That's OK. That's a kind of magic, the creation of that world.
The performers in "Stomp" could leave the theater and walk down the street and blend into the crowds. They don't look much different from you or me... except for some very well-defined musculature. They look like construction workers, or students, not dancers.
I was not merely impressed by the show, I was blown away. I could not stop moving. I couldn't stop nodding my head, tapping on my thigh, clapping when I saw something amazing.
A "Stomp" audience is alive in a way I've never seen an audience alive, and I've attended many, many productions over many years.
I was surprised by the comedy. There was a lot of laughter. It's all visual. For instance, there is a line of performers, all clapping, and tapping their feet, and sometimes beating on cans, or blocks of wood, or pipes. One guy is doing his own thing, not in the rhythms. Everyone notices it. He looks abashed.
Not a word is spoken.
Many of the performers have little solos during the show. It's hard to single out one performer, but Cammie Griffin is amazing. She seems to lose herself in the percussion. Athletic, versatile, yet expressive.
I've been going to shows at the Fox since I was tiny, and I've never experienced one that reverberated in my spine. "Stomp" did that. I was literally glued to my seat several times, unable to look away, or move, or think about anything except what I was hearing and seeing.
The Fox is nearly 100 years old. I wondered what an audience of the 1920's would think if they could see us there, watching these performers beating on shopping carts, dancing with trashcan lids and brooms, hanging from the set like window washers. I suspect they would think of it as collective madness, which indeed it is, but that's just fine.
At the end, one of the performers stood alone onstage and led the audience in clapping, and stomping, and snapping fingers. We became part of the production. It was exhilarating and transformative.
"Stomp" runs through September 29 at the Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St NE in Atlanta. For information or tickets, call 404-881-2100 or visit www.foxtheatre.org