After a sold-out run in 2013, the ‘Stompers’ are back in New Zealand with STOMP ’18. This show has been something of a global phenomenon for nearly 25 years so audiences will no doubt already be familiar with the concept of the show – those expecting show tunes from this musical will be sorely disappointed, those expecting a night of exhilarating rhythm played out on supermarket trolleys, bin lids and paint cans are in for a real treat.
Starting slowly with wooden brooms, the eight-strong ensemble cast slowly introduce the tools of their trade – tossing (and rarely dropping) instruments between each other and using their bodies to create syncopated rhythms by banging and clapping their feet on the ground. The brilliant auditory component is not all that’s on display in The Civic Theatre, the ‘Stompers’ use inner tubes tied around themselves to create a flailing whirling dance number, unlike anything a theatre audience will have seen before.
You wouldn’t necessarily expect many laughs from a musical with bin lids and no dialogue but the physical comedy provides for an interesting change of rhythm to keep the audience interested and guessing about what’s about to happen next.
STOMP as a show has come a long way since its initial run in the UK in the early 90s, what started as a rough around the edges niche show for rhythm lovers has transformed into a slick sophisticated show that feels like a production, not just a performance. Previous patrons of the show overseas will undoubtedly find a multitude of new points to enjoy in this latest tour and will find the production value and entertainment level rivaling that of similar top-tier West End and Broadway shows.
STOMP is in a constant delicate balance between a dance, drum show and thrilling stage combat, showing the complete versatility of the ‘Stompers’ who jump from intense primal like performance to soft and intricately timed choreography. The show as a whole is mesmerising in its visual impact. Stage lighting is used to dance shadows and, in some cases, black out all but the performers’ lights.
With moves so hot you can actually smell the fire, and just the right amount of audience participation you’ll be inspired to rummage through your local junkyard and start a Stomp troop of your own.
STOMP ’18 is playing at The Civic Theatre in Auckland until May 27th.
Reviewed by Lindsey Catherine