Monday, March 30, 2015

Street Beat of "Stomp" Celebrates 20 Years in NYC

By Ashley Liporace

The lights go down. The spotlights go on. A man enters sweeping the floor on the stage. A small beat begins from the broom and his feet. Another person enters and sweeps along with the man, keeping the same beat. In the next few moments the stage is full of men and a few women creating a beat with brooms, their feet on the floor and with each other. “Stomp” has just begun.

It originally started in the United Kingdom in 1981 as a street comedy band.  It entered stage in 1991 with Steve McNicholas and Luck Cresswell as its creators. London’s Bloomsbury Theatre was “Stomp”’s original home theater, where it received awards from Critic’s Choice and the Daily Express’ “Best of the Fringe” award. For the next three years, “Stomp” would travel around the world from Hong Kong to Barcelona, from Dublin to Sydney. Each show was sold out.

In 1994, “Stomp” found a home at the Orpheum Theater in New York City. In a few short months “Stomp”’s first American was cast as a new member of “Stomp,” the following year two more Americans were cast as members. New York City is not the only city in the United States to house the world famous music comedy. San Francisco, California, received its own “Stomp” in 2000. “Stomp” has won many of awards. Millions of eyes have watched and enjoyed these performances.

“Stomp” is currently an off Broadway play celebrating its twentieth anniversary at the Orpheum Theater in the East Village. The cast members are trained musicians, but the show is not just about playing a guitar or piano. In fact, there are no real instruments on set, instead brooms, match boxes, hands, feet, kitchen pots, lighters, and even oil barrels, are used to make the music.

On Sunday, March eighth, the theater was near full house.  The crowd was a mixture of all ages and ethnic backgrounds.  As you look around the room, heads are bobbing to the beat. Unlike other plays, the cast interacts with its audience.  Multiple music numbers where the audience repeats after the cast with clapping, stomping, and snapping fingers gets everyone excited. There is a bit of silent comedy to it. Cast members Alan Asuncion and Jesse Armerbing bring the comedy to life. Alan is the newbie to the group and is considerably shorter and smaller than the other members. There are moments where the other members will get at him or where he tries to act tougher than those who are taller than himself.

Each audience is different; no two shows are the same so there might be some comedy from the audience and the reaction from the cast members.  At the show on March eighth, one child’s laugh was so loud and funny that the audience and cast members could not help but laugh with the child. Another moment during the show an audience member in the front row got up to use the bathroom. The cast members played along with the gentleman and even cracked a few smiles and laughs.  On a given day, the show is unpredictable. The current cast of “Stomp” at the Orpheum blows their audience away with their musical talent.

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