What do garbage cans, dancers, brooms and acrobats have in common?
If you’ve been paying any attention the past 20 years, you’d likely know that they all come together in “STOMP,” opening at Kingsbury Hall Oct. 4-6, when the national tour hits Salt Lake City.
Described as “an inventive and invigorating stage show that’s dance, music and theatrical performance blended together in one electrifying rhythm,” “STOMP” has toured around the world in more than 50 countries and performed in front of more than 24 million people.
“Rhythm is really universal,” said Fiona Wilkes, an original cast member of the hit sensation. “There is no language barrier — it’s just the rhythm of life, and everybody can relate to that.”
Though focused on high energy rhythmic performance, “STOMP” also has theatrical elements that change from year to year; even if you’ve seen “STOMP” before, you’ll experience something different. This year, the newest routine uses shopping carts.
“There are new routines and new people,” Wilkes said. “People forget it’s not just stomping, it’s comedy and dance, music, and there’s theater.”
“And it’s a great way to introduce your kids to theater,” she said. “It’s a family show across the board; it’s rhythm.”
That rhythm is tapped, pounded, crashed and stomped out by a cast of 12 members, eight on stage on any given night, all from various backgrounds — “drummers, dancers, theater people, acrobats, you name it — even a triathlete,” said Wilkes, who was the only trained dancer in the original cast.
“They really do become your family,” she said. “If you think about it, we’re throwing around dangerous objects; you really have to trust the people that you’re working with. We always have a great respect for each other.”
And that goes for the backstage crew, too. “The backstage choreography is almost more impressive,” she said. “The magic on stage cannot happen without the crew.”
With the grueling physical demands, the cast members, and even the crew, have various routines for keeping ready to stomp through an evening. “Physically, it’s exhausting,” Wilkes said. That’s part of the reason she decided to hang up her performing shoes to become the rehearsal director. “I wanted to stop while I still had my knees and knuckles.
“The performers have their own rituals,” she said. “There is a group warm-up, which is great. There is a physical therapist there every night in case the stompers have anything they need worked on. Some people do ice, some do heat. They roll on tennis balls, some go to the gym, they’re very committed to staying in the best shape possible.”
Even though Wilkes herself no longer "stomps," her husband is still a stomper and she’s mom to a little 6-year-old stomper. “Rhythm is in his blood. He goes to a music school and taps — he loves it.”
Twenty years after opening the first “STOMP,” Wilkes is happy to still be a part of the rhythmic family. “It’s like watching your baby grow up,” she said. “I didn’t think I’d still be doing the same job all these years later. But I feel so lucky. It doesn’t feel like work, and I’ve loved watching it grow. I can’t wait to see where it goes.”
If you go ...
What: "STOMP," National tour
Where: Kingsbury Hall
When: Oct. 4-6, times vary, matinees available
How much: $15-$30
Web: www.stomponline.com, www.arttix.org
Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company