The performers of Stomp are masters at making the ordinary extraordinary.
The cast of nine transforms simple household and industrial objects such as brooms, metal trash can lids, wooden poles, Zippo lighters, empty paint cans, plastic tubs, tire rims, crates, tractor tires, and even the kitchen sink, into a show that shakes, rattles, and rolls with rhythm and sounds.
Rhythm is the beating heart of Stomp, the international percussion show that returns to the Stranahan Theater Saturday and Sunday for three performances.
"It's a music and movement show using instruments that are not conventional, [that are] found objects such as brooms and poles, and our bodies," Ivan Delaforce, tour rehearsal director and performer who has been with Stomp for 18 years, said in a telephone interview.
"There is no story line, but there is some comedy in it, and there are characters, but it's a visual music show" he added. "We are actually playing the music we move to. There is no soundtrack. We are the soundtrack."
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The Blade will appear on stage too, in a number that changes copies of the newspaper into instruments.
Stomp got its start in 1991 in Brighton, England, when it was created by then-street performers Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas. In 1994, it won an Olivier Award in London for choreography, and then began a run at the Orpheum Theatre in New York, winning an Obie Award and a Drama Desk Award for Most Unique Theatre Experience; the show continues at the Orpheum. In 1995, U.S. tours began. This is the fourth time the Theater League has brought it to Toledo; previous shows were in 2004, 2007, and 2011. It is now performed on London and New York stages and in U.S. and European tours.
Some of the cast may have professional backgrounds in music or dance, but that's not a prerequisite — talent is. Performers may include musicians and dancers and actors and pretty much anybody who impresses in auditions. "The audition process is pretty much a workshop; we give you brooms and we teach you the show, and if you can do it, you can do it," Delaforce said.
New numbers are added from time to time. There's one they call Trolley (known as shopping carts in the U.S.) which incorporates the grocery store staple, and another which features plumbing pipes that can be flexed any which way like accordions to make sounds, he said.
Delaforce, who is a drummer, has a favorite segment, one in which he sometimes performs. He hangs in the air in a harness in front of a large wall of various items that for him become percussion instruments. "I'm swinging around and banging on all the stuff like one big drum set," he said.
Stomp is entertainment, but it could be a side benefit — it may make the audience more aware of the rhythms of their own lives. "If people listen differently after they've seen our show, I think we've had some kind of success," Steve McNicholas, one of the show's creators, told filmmaker Kelly Wurx in an interview aired on CNN in November, 2012.
Stomp performances are Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 and 7 p.m. at the Stranahan Theater, 4645 Heatherdowns Blvd. Tickets range from $28 to $63 and are available from 419-381-8851, stranahantheater.org, or at the box office.
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