A Cultural Phenomenon – STOMP

August 25, 2021

T.K.Millo & Co

Investing in a Broadway show in today’s climate is a high-risk venture: there’s ever-changing CDC guidance, mask compliance, cast and crew regulations, and of course the main question at hand–will people come? On August 16th & 17th, Broadway Utica put that question to rest as theatergoers packed the Stanley Theatre for the premier of STOMP.

Here are a few takeaways from this cultural phenomenon:

Broadway Utica literally brought the crowd to the streets!

Thanks to the dynamic performance of STOMP, Broadway Utica’s first show to kick off the 2021-2022 season, Genesee Street was once again flooded with pedestrians eager to get back to the theater. Downtown restaurants and cafes filled with chatter, the clanking of silverware, and bar orders barked over the contented patrons. Sidewalks charged with the sounds of footfalls, as beautiful heels, shiny dress shoes, flip-flops, and sneakers showcased the diversity of the crowd.

Journalists, and really all attendees, were genuinely excited to be there.

Giddy theatre-goers walked down the aisles, waving hello to friends they hadn’t seen in years, while excitedly searching for their seats. A couple of young journos in the audience chatted with couples in front of them as they patiently waited for the show to begin. “I am so happy to be here,” seemed to radiate throughout conversations as everyone waited for the lights to fade and the stage to come to life again.

The Show Was Organic

Industrial rejects like old shocks, struts, barrels, hubcaps, and even an orange recycle bucket–an ode to Utica– littered the walls of the set. Highlighted by a touch of Graffiti, the stage was raw, unapologetic, and unbowed by the vocations and situations implied by the objects that came into their hands and under their feet. Matchboxes, tin cans, and combs set the precedent that anything can be an instrument and anything can be expressed in the music they produce. Simply put: STOMP displayed the power of making the most of what you have and sharing it with others.

Fun, Varied Costumes

Forget the notion of fancy wardrobes. STOMP is all about highlighting the music. Sleeveless t-shirts, baggy pants, overalls, and blue jeans play into the relaxed–we’re not trying– theme. Yet, trying is exactly what they were doing. From shopping cart drills to suitcase spins and a hilarious number with kitchen sinks that included a naughty sight-gag, it’s clear that wardrobe is the least of what we need to pay attention to.

There’s Power In Music

STOMP brought an emotional response without uttering a single word. Expressions through movements, performer’s faces and gestures, and the heartfelt pounding of empty buckets played into the message of invention, inclusion, and hope. It said nothing and everything as it bounced its adrenaline from the stage and straight to the audience’s core.

One of the more mesmerizing sequences of STOMP involved Zippo lighters–in the dark.  “It looks like Christmas lights,” a young man whispered in the audience.

The Synchronicity of STOMP Was Flawless

Movements are quick and beats carry off one another. The precision to detail is so profound, it causes you to wonder what would happen if an actor were to miss their mark. Would it send the beat askew? Just then the brush cap of a performer’s broom breaks mid-skit, scattering its bristles across the stage, seconds before another broom is launched from the side curtain and back into the actor’s arms. The moment is so fast that most people never even pick up on the mishap. After all, the show must go on.

The Crowd Got Rowdy

Organized madness meshed into a synchronized basketball ditty, rhythmic stick fights, and a humorous newspaper skit that included pages of the OD. Laughter and applause filled the theatre in unison- an acclaimed part of the theatre we’d forgotten- and the crowd hung to the edge of their seats ready to burst into dance. As if on cue, the performers directed the audience to clap, stomp and snap with them. The beats, syncopated stomps, and snapping gave the energy a home and created an acoustic jam that highlighted the power of sound.

Meaningful, Clever & Culturally Relevant

Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas’s masterpiece, STOMP, expertly wove music, dance, theatrics, and a touch of humor into a seamless performance.

A triumph of a musical percussion–STOMP released Broadway Utica’s audience back into the world with a new ear for sounds around them, a different eye for dance and movement, and uninhibited energy that screamed, “Welcome Back, Broadway! We never knew how much we missed you.”

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