Not many people would consider a trash can, broom or matchbox to be anything more than mundane household objects, much less musical instruments. However, for unique performance group STOMP, that’s exactly what they are. Created in England by Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas, the one-of-a-kind theatrical experience makes its way to the Port City for the first time on March 22 at Cape Fear Community College’s Wilson Center.
“STOMP is unlike any other theatrical show in the world,” says STOMP performer Jeremy Price. “It’s a little more punk rock than typical theatre.”
After it first premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland in 1991, STOMP continued to wow audiences for the next several years in Hong Kong, Barcelona, Dublin, Sydney, and London.
The group made their debut in the US in 1994 at the Orpheum Theatre in New York City after being featured on “Good Morning America.” STOMP still continues to perform in NYC daily. The Big Apple even commemorated the group’s 10th anniversary by renaming Second Avenue at 8th Street “STOMP Avenue.” One of its greatest achievements, however, is giving talented, offbeat artists an outlet for channeling their creativity.
“I feel very fortunate I’ve gotten to experience STOMP,” Price says. “When I first auditioned, I was trying to find my way in the world of entertainment. It really opened my mind, and I’ve learned a whole lot about acting and relationships.”
Born and raised in Roanoke, VA, Price started out as a break dancer, through which he found his love for drumming. After immersing himself in the world of music, he began performing with local bands and taking private music lessons. His talent for drumming would be a great addition to the performance group dedicated to turning regular objects into full-on percussion instruments. When Price got the chance to witness STOMP for himself, he knew he had to be a part of it.
“I saw the show in 1999 or 2000,” Price says. “I kept my eye out for auditions. Once I found one in my area I went, and that’s how I got the job.”
STOMP has four casts in total. There are two casts performing daily: one in London and one in New York. They typically do about eight shows per week. There also are two touring casts on the road for about half of the year. One tours throughout Europe, while the other tours throughout the US. Contrary to many music auditions, prospective STOMP members don’t just have one shot onstage to prove their talents. Instead, everyone participates in a workshop.
“A lot of people don’t fully understand what STOMP is all about at first,” Price explains. “It’s not something that people just do naturally; it’s its own entity.”
During the week-long workshop, performers are evaluated on their charisma, rhythm, personality, and ability to learn. As a member who’s performed with nearly all of STOMP’s casts, Price says all these qualities are necessary for a successful member.
“You have to be able to understand and embody rhythm, with a certain amount of charisma, personality, and definitely the ability to relate to other cast members on stage, which is where the theatrics come into play.” Price explains. “It’s some blend of those things, and their confidence in you that you can learn and be a productive member of the show.”
Price notes a cast member must be “comedically inclined,” too, as they use their bodies to create the overall effect of the show, just as much as their unconventional instruments. This requires cast members to stay physically fit, and be able to adapt to any new elements of the show. The latest addition to their cache of props are shopping carts and giant inner-tube tires used for trucks.
Luckily, with the amount of rehearsing and performing the group does, staying in shape really isn’t an issue.
“We’re onstage for at least a half-hour to an hour before we perform each time,” Price says. “We warm up, do our sound checks, and the crew prepares the stage for us. We actually rehearse every day.”
The overall layout of the show, about 25 percent, is improvised. Every cast member gets a solo moment at one point or another, to exercise full creative control. “It’s one of the most beautiful parts of this show,” Price states. “The way you bring yourself to the character is very much a part of you. It’s not scripted.”
To witness STOMP’s debut in the Port City, head to Cape Fear Community College’s Wilson Center on Wednesday, Mar. 22, or Thursday, Mar. 23. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the show starts at 7:30 p.m. For tickets and more event details, visit www.cfcc.edu/capefearstage/stomp.