Thursday, March 23, 2000

'Stomp' antics bring out kid in Aronoff audience

Enquirer contributor

        In the wildly popular romp called Stomp,not a word of dialogue is spoken, but the message is loud and clear: Rhythm rules.

        If you're coming to the show, which runs through Sunday at the Aronoff Center, leave your quiet side home. Stomp is big and loud. There are a few quiet moments (music is found in paper rattling, for instance), but big sound abounds. .

        In its fourth successful visit to the Tristate (Tuesday's opener was packed at 2,500 and the remaining shows are selling well), Stomp shows no sign of wearing out. This company of eight engaging young entertainers has the right amount of laid-back attitude coupled with outrageous rhythmic ability. These kids were surely born kicking their feet to an inner beat.

        When the company auditions in San Francisco, 3,000 people turn out, so directors Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas have the luxury of picking performers with the most spirited personalities.

        The present sensational cast comprises people who were actors, dancers and musicians in previous lives. Now they're full-body percussionists spending their days and nights traveling and stomping around the world.

        It's not a job for the rhythmically challenged, as was shown when the audience got a chance to participate. With gusto we tried, but fell apart after our first eight counts. It brought home the reason why they're onstage and we're not.

        The show's look is so loose you can be teased into thinking it's just a bunch of noisy kids having a great time banging away at trash cans and tire rims. But this is a completely choreographed show with as many as eight rhythms going on simultaneously. Its sounds are complex with a song found in everything from rubber tubing to toilet plungers.

        Little has changed in the material since last year, but cast changes give each show a fresh feel. The directors have left room to play around with individual quirks and talents, and this company has plenty of both.

        The humor can run to the juvenile — toilet paper stuck to a shoe? I can't explain why it left us grown-ups giggling along with the kids. Maybe it's because Stomp brings out the kid in everybody.

        With its big heart and raucous bangs we're all back to that place and time where it's OK to splat through mud puddles.

        Stomp continues at Procter & Gamble Hall, Aronoff Center, through Sunday; 241-7469.


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