On Theater: You'll get a bang out of 'Stomp'

Next time you hear your kids banging on pots and pans, don't discourage them, they could wind up performing onstage in STOMP.

Yes, STOMP is back at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts where you might say the performers make music — or at least rhythmic noise — with everything but the kitchen sink. But you'd be wrong, they use that as well.

Brooms, sticks, trash cans, newspaper, cigarette lighters and anything else this troupe of eight can employ become instruments in their offbeat quest for entertainment. The result is an upbeat and definitely unique evening of rapid-fire performance art.

Garbage cans become drums and their lids are turned into cymbals to fulfill director Luke Cresswell's pledge in a news release that "we make a rhythm out of anything we can get our hands on that makes a sound." And the troupe's pinpoint timing during these madcap moments adds a stunning example of orchestral quality.

"Stomp," created by Cresswell and Steve McNicholas, took root in England more than over three decades ago and has become something of a global sensation with various troupes performing internationally for the past two decades. It's definitely one-of-a-kind theater.

As the performance opens, the apparent leader of the pack, a blond, muscular, liberally tattooed chap, is sweeping the stage, but his broom quickly becomes a musical instrument and he's joined by the rest of the cast until all eight (six guys, two gals) are firing off a rat-tat-tat-boom melody in skillful syncopation.

The performers are identified, alphabetically, in the program, but not insofar as which one is doing what and when. It's truly an ensemble piece, and impressively so.

There's a gangly, geekish guy who strives to join the others, but frequently is just a bit out of step. It's the closest the show comes to a plot.

No words are uttered in the 100-minute, intermission-free presentation. The bumps, rattles and crashes speak for them, and eloquently. In one particularly impressive sequence, the performers dig into a trash bag for their instruments — bags of paper and plastic, which can, in the proper hands, become melodic.

Youthful energy and rapid-fire coordination serve the Stompers well as they strive to one-up one another in wordless competition. In one particularly effective bit, the stage is darkened and the cast members play out a snappy tune with their lighters. In another, large cans are hurled the length of the stage and back by all eight performers.

If you haven't partaken of the STOMP experience, don't miss it during the show's final days this weekend. It's a truly unique theatrical experience.

TOM TITUS reviews local theater for the Daily Pilot.

If You Go

What: "Stomp"

Where: Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa

When: Closing performances 7:30 p.m. Friday, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sunday

Cost: $20 and up

Information: (714) 556-2787 or http://www.scfta.org

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