Stomp was first performed in 1991 in Brighton, which is the nearest city to my childhood town – and as it happens, the show is my neighbor here too. I finally decided to head to the Orpheum Theater in the East Village to see it tonight – and I’m very glad I was given this second chance.
It’s a simple concept with some pretty fantastic results: Around eight performers bash, throw and shake a variety of discarded or household objects to prove you can make music from anything.
The team created catchy beats using brooms, dustbin lids, tubing and tap shoes, but one of my favorite scenes involved them lining up in the dark each armed with two zippo lighters. They’d take it in turns to switch the lighters on – not only giving out light but a really satisfying ‘click’ that created the rhythm. And as the light flickered down the line, it sparked a really cool effect of jagged movement.
This video doesn’t give you the same visual treat we experienced, but you’ll get an idea of the sound:
Although there was no story line, there was enough to keep it coherent thanks to the characters on stage. One guy seemed the butt of every joke, for example – always getting the meekest, smallest instruments and the biggest laughs. And together, their comic timing was brilliant.
Their skill set seemed so niche that I wondered what training and backgrounds the performers had had – were they tap dancers? Percussionists? Janitors?
I’m glad we got this as part of a Groupon deal because, while it was great, I really hate how costly shows are in New York – so it’s definitely a deal site to keep an eye on. Either way, don’t ignore Stomp for years like I did – it’s definitely worth a trip.
(The only thing I take issue with was that the theater was freezing cold. Take a jumper!)