Theater Review: STOMP at Dr. Phillips Center

STOMP plays Orlando's Dr. Phillips Center March 23-24, 2016. - Photo courtesy STOMP
Photo courtesy STOMP
STOMP plays Orlando's Dr. Phillips Center March 23-24, 2016.
After circling the globe nonstop since 1991, you’d expect STOMP to be exhausted by now, or at least out of metal lids to smash. The found-object percussion show they spawned has certainly been imitated and exploited by enough theme parks and cruise ships to obscure the originality that brought the Brighton-based phenomenon fame in the first place. But even after seeing the show several times over the past quarter-century, spending 105 minutes in the Dr. Phillips Center with STOMP’s current touring company demonstrates that as the show has aged, it hasn’t lost any of its infectious, explosive energy.

Though I hadn't experienced STOMP since the Bob Carr was still Orlando’s premier venue, large portions of the production were still very familiar, from the opening push broom routine to the deafening trash can finale. In between, the ensemble cast (John Angeles, Leilani Dibble, Dustin Elsea, Delaunce Jackson, Alexis Juliano, Kriss Lee, Guido Mandozzi, Jeremy Price, Charley Ruane, Ivan Salazar, Cade Slattery, Simeon Weedall) makes music from matchbooks, Zippo lighters, garbage bags, a copy of Orlando Weekly, and the kitchen sink — literally.

The signature STOMP style that directors Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas created blends dance, juggling and stage combat with complex percussive performance. The resulting melange resembles marching band color guard as remade by Savion Glover and the Blue Man Group, minus the makeup.

STOMP has held up remarkably well, thanks to the performers’ propulsive exuberance, though the original design’s grunge aesthetic now looks more like homeless hipsters. There’s no dialogue, much less plot or storyline, but the cast is able to convey personality quirks and conflicts without words, giving the show a much-needed hint of character development. Pacing is snappy throughout the first 90 minutes, with one segment steamrolling into the next, though the show peaks with a high-swinging aerial act, then loses energy and lopes across the finish line.

What impressed me most after all these years was how funny STOMP was, exploring a wide range of nonverbal comedy from subtle sight gags to goofy toilet humor. Timing is everything in comedy and percussion, and this production is right on the beat in both departments.

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