Stomp Makes Music Out Of The Mundane

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Stomp plays the Fox Theatre in St. Louis April 10-12, 2015.

When I was just a small child, I would get my hands on a couple of my mother’s pots and a couple of wooden spoons, and go to town making the most unharmonious racket you can imagine. It wouldn’t take long before those cooking implements were taken away and peace and quiet was restored to the Ritter household. I can’t honestly say that I remember having seen a drummer of any sort before that experience, so maybe it’s more of a primal instinct for humans to make music, however they can manage it. Some people are just plain gifted—prodigies on piano or guitar at a young age that make it look effortless to produce sounds some trained professionals would be hard-pressed to achieve with a lifetime of practice. Some are only concert megastars in the shower or in their car, but either way only in their own heads (that’s me!). Some rare, lucky individuals blaze a new path, turning the kitchenware cacophony of my youth into a fusion of jazz, rock, tap dance and sketch comedy. They call it STOMP. I call it incredible.

I first saw STOMP about two years when they last played the Fabulous Fox Theatre in St. Louis. I was blown away by the rhythms and melodies these talented performers were able to create with household objects. From Rubbermaid storage tubs to bathroom trashcans, from basketballs to broomsticks, heck, even the kitchen sink was turned into a percussive instrument. If all else failed, the performers would clap, snap, slap and even rattle their own teeth with the end of an ink pen. A short piece performed in total darkness using those fancy lighters with the flip open top cover— you know the kind, they make that unmistakable metallic scraping sound when you flick them open—demonstrated that everyday items could create visual artistic effects as well as make rhythmic sounds, which is a simplistic but generally accurate definition of music.

The performers are strangely anonymous in the show—they never speak, there are no introductions. I can’t begin to imagine the calories they burn in this show, so I would imagine that the touring troupe switch off pretty regularly. I would be interested to know if any of them have ever worn a “Fitbit” or other biometric tracking device, and what the results were. While the Playbill booklet lists the cast, there’s no pictures to put with the names, and there seems to be more cast listed than I saw on stage. At any rate, John Angeles, Ivan Delaforce, Eric Fay, Andrés Fernandez, Cammie Griffin, Mike Hall, Delaunce Jackson, Alexis Juliano, Kris Lee, Jeremy Price, Ivan Salazar, and Reggie Talley are the Stompers that rock the house on the touring show, and they supply a good amount of comedy as well. It’s interesting to me that these performers are able to connect with an audience and get some pretty strong reactions with only physical gestures and well-timed sound queues that folks won’t even realize they’re responding to most of the time. Cast pictures and biographies can be found on the STOMP website: www.stomponline.com

STOMP creators and directors Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas have really caught lightning in a bottle with this show. They reach into that long forgotten and generally disused place in our collective subconscious and whisper, “Go ahead, your Mom’s not watching now…tap on whatever you got handy and make yourself smile.” As I was leaving the show, a number of youthful audience members were taping on bathroom sinks, paper towel dispensers, trash cans in the lobby, and stair rails from the balcony level with souvenir drumsticks or their fingers. Most of their parents were quick to admonish them, but I thought if ever there was a time to let them go and explore the sound of everyday life, this was it. Who knows, maybe I’ll be reviewing one of these kids in 10 years if STOMP stops in St. Louis again?

Stomp plays the Fox Theatre from April 10 through April 12, 2015, with two shows on Sunday. 

Grade: 
5.0 / 5.0