By Chris Berger
Stomp, The Lied Center for Performing Arts, Friday November 4, 2022, 7:30PM
I saw Stomp in the early 90’s in Kansas City, MO and it was one of the first “big” shows I had ever seen. The only other “big time” touring show I had seen before this was Les Misérables about a year or so before. I had never seen anything like Stomp and I was entranced through the entire show. The sheer creativity, skill and endurance of the performers and of what I was watching was totally invigorating and inspiring to me as a performer. It showed me something new that I had never even thought of; something that was so positive and full of energy it made you want to go and do or create something cool and different.
So, I went to see Stomp last night at The Lied Center about thirty years after I saw it the first time and I have to say that this show is STILL amazing!
If you have not heard of Stomp before now, I would absolutely recommend going! It is a show that combines percussion & rhythm, dance and a good dose of comedy into a truly unique interactive theatrical performance that will have you jazzed up for days.
From their website: “Matchboxes, brooms, garbage cans, Zippo lighters, and more fill the stage with energizing beats at STOMP: the inventive and invigorating stage show that’s dance, music, and theatrical performance blended together in one electrifying rhythm.”
The show started off with all the performers with push brooms sweeping the stage in rhythm with each other. There were many microphones pointed at the stage floor so every little noise is picked up and amplified. The brooms were used for a sweeping and swishing sound and also turned over and used as sticks to bang on the stage or other brooms. Every little swish of the brooms or scuff of the feet was executed in perfect rhythm. All of this is done with dance and choreography that at some points in the show just boggles the mind at the complexity and precision of the movement.
Even though there is no dialog from the performers every one of them has a “character” that comes through. You have the lead men and women that come across very cool, skilled and funny. There is an outrageous guy that likes to pull funny stunts. There is also one in the company who is sometimes a little bit behind and gets “picked on” by the rest of the cast. All of the performers get a chance to shine at various points in the show.
One of the big parts of the show is the performers encouraging and leading audience participation. This starts from the very first and continues throughout the show.
In this show everything is used as an instrument; Brooms, staves, matchboxes, suitcases, zippo lighters, pots, pans newspapers, gas cans, barrels and even the kitchen sink! They use their bodies for snaps and claps and body slaps and dancing. Even the set itself is used as a massive instrument. The whole thing is constructed to look like a junkyard.
Although I won’t go through a play-by-play of every bit, I do want to talk about a few of the amazing routines. One of the funniest pieces was a bit where the “picked on” guy comes to the middle of the stage with a chair and small table, sits and starts reading a book. One by one the rest of the cast comes out and sits right next to him with their own books and newspapers and they start to make noise (in rhythm) and disturb him. It starts with coughing and clearing their throats and continues with the newspapers. Finally, everyone settles down and gets quiet and the first “picked on” guy takes out and clicks his pen to write in his book and everyone shushes him. Funny stuff.
And then there is a bit about halfway through the show that blew my mind. One of the main guys comes out with a couple of small hand brooms, like the kind you used to see in barber shops. He starts playing around with them and slowly everyone starts to come onstage with a different thing for him to drum on with the hand brooms. Pots, pans, metal cups, hubcaps, plastic tubs, metal bowls, jerrycans and more were all used. He would drum on all the objects as the cast danced around him and tossed the objects back and forth to each other. It was constant motion for a least four to five minutes with every member of the cast dancing and moving around him, tossing objects, and without really looking he danced around in the group kept the beat on everything that came his way. After about a minute my brain shut down and stopped trying to figure out how in the world this was choreographed and jus enjoyed the spectacle.
The build-up to the finale had the performers hanging off the junkyard set and drumming on the different parts of it and then everyone got their largest drums and came out for the finale with three of the performers having metal oil drums strapped to their feet! They walked across the stage with these massive things and pounded out a driving beat for the end. After the finale everyone collapsed onstage and waved goodbye. The funny “picked on” guy came out and played with the crowd and then the rest of the company came out for a short encore.
Such a fantastic and unique show that is for all ages. Non-stop music, percussion and dancing, humor and some of the most skilled (and in shape!) performers you will ever see on stage. Stomp is still a great show all these years later with all the same energy and skill as the original. Well done…again!
The touring cast of Stomp are:
Jordan Brooks, Simi Egbejumi-David, Jose Filgueira, Declan Hayden, Madeline Jafari, Zahna Johnson, Jasmine Joyner, Riley Korrell, Max Meyer, Sean Perham and Cade Slattery.
If you go: Stomp is playing on Friday, November 4th at The Lied Center at 7:30pm.
Chris Berger is an actor currently living in Louisville, NE and co-host of The Platte River Bard podcast with his wife and co-founder/co-owner & performer in The Jolly Rogers – The Original Singing Pirates of the Midwest since 1991.
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