What happens when you combine innovative theater, modern dance, rhythmic music and the eclectic energy of performance art? "STOMP" is what happens, and it is an amazing experience.
"STOMP" is the creation of Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas. After working together in the UK as members of the street band Pookiesnackenburger and the theatre group Cliff Hanger in the 1980's, Cresswell and McNicholas created "STOMP."
It previewed at London's Bloomsbury Theater and premiered at The Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh. It was an instant hit earning the Guardian Critic Choice Award and the Daily Express Best of the Fringe Award.
"STOMP" soon went on world tour to sold-out venues earning even more accolades and setting attendance records. It even broke a box office record no one had touched since it was set by Frank Sinatra in 1972.
After more than 5000 "STOMP" performances, Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas built a $28 million theater specifically for the production.
With HBO specials, IMAX movies, Presidential performances, Royal performances and more awards than they can reasonably list already in their pockets, Cresswell and McNicholas reworked and added new material to "STOMP" in 2008.
They have worked their magic again -- the current production is simply stunning.
"STOMP" takes the audience on a journey through the symbiotic relationship between music and dance. The show opens with one man sweeping the stage floor with a wooden broom. One by one, other cast members sweep their way on stage.
As the audience is introduced to the ensemble, the floor sweeping turns into a multi-player rhythmic symphony. At least four brooms snapped in half during the energetic and increasingly frantic opening number. New brooms were tossed to the performers on stage that didn't miss a beat.
When this number ends and the audience has been attuned to rhythmic complexity, one of the performers leads the audience in a simple clap-response session. He claps. The audience attempts to mimic his cadence. He varies his rhythm and encourages the audience to follow.
The mime performance progresses as both the instruments and rhythms become more complex. The audience is exposed to the unique tonal qualities of such familiar items as shopping carts, brooms, dust pans, newspapers, shopping bags, inner tubes, hub caps, trash cans, trash can lids, barrels and cigarette lighters.
The ensemble cast includes Alexandria Bradley, Eric Fay, Andre Fernandez, Cammie Griffin, Mike Hall, Lance Liles, Guy Mandozzi, Andre Meggerson, Nancy Rubio, John Sawicki, Mike Silvia and Carlos Thomas.
Even though the performance is done in mime with no dialogue, each cast member portrays a distinct character different from the others. This uniqueness is highlighted throughout the performance as each one is given a chance to express himself in at least one musical number.
Each performer brings a special talent to the stage. Rubio, Griffin and Bradley are experienced dancers and choreographers. Sawicki is a percussionist who has performed with Tommy Lee, No Doubt and Limp Bizkit. Mandozzi is a trained actor who provides hilarious comic relief to the production.
Just as the odd assortment of objects work together in the music and dance, this diverse cast both works together and lifts each other to a sum that is greater than its individual parts.
In viewing "STOMP," I believe that Cresswell and McNicholas want us to see the overlooked beauty in the everyday life sounds that we usually block out or ignore.
"STOMP" reveals the beauty in the diversity of the human individual. Each solitary human carries a talent, tune and flavor that furthers the whole of humanity. Each singular and often disregarded noise can become part of an amazing symphony.
Throughout the performance, the audience is invited to participate. At the beginning of the show, a cast member teaches rhythm to the audience through a basic clap-response session. As the show progresses, he periodically challenges the audience to more complex cadences. By the end of the show, the newly attuned audience completes a very complex and energetic clap-response session that they never would have been able to accomplish at first. Their ears have become accustomed to complex rhythms. Objects and sounds that may have once just been viewed as noise and irritation are now seen and heard in a new light.
That is what Cresswell and McNicholas want their audiences to experience. They call it the "exploration of rhythm in all things" and the presence of stomp in the "rhythm of life."
"STOMP" may be one of the most engaging, amazing and exhilarating shows you will ever experience.
"STOMP" continues its North American, South American and European tours through 2013. Tour dates and information can be found at http://www.stomponline.com/tickets_tour.php
"STOMP" was performed Jan. 4 and 5 at the King Center for the Performing Arts at Brevard Community College, 3865 N. Wickham Road, Melbourne, FL 32935. For info or tickets for upcoming shows, call 321-242-2219 or visit http://www.kingcenter.com