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Music With A Heartbeat

STOMP Brings Music, Stories, and British Broomsticks to Broadway

Brooms, lighters, trash cans, and shopping carriages—at STOMP, just about anything is a musical instrument. Since 1994, this iconic off-Broadway show has been entertaining New York City audiences with innovative music and engaging storytelling using non-traditional percussive instruments. 

"I think people come in expecting a lot of noise and banging," says Production Stage Manager Paul Botchis. "They see clips on the news and other places and there are certain things they expect to see. But they're surprised to see ballads, to see a lot of comedy. They don't always know that the show is so funny--it's a total surprise."

The show features a diverse array of musical numbers ranging from the well-known "Brooms" to the unexpected "Zippos", which makes use of Zippo lighters and combines light and sound into a melody-driven and surprisingly quiet piece.

Rare among Broadway productions, STOMP draws its cast members from auditions open to anyone brave enough to try out. "Our cast members come from all walks of life. Some are dancers, others are musicians or actors, and some were making fries at the place across the street," Botchis says. "This is different from regular drumming and the props can be awkward. The best drummer in the world doesn't use two broomsticks--there's a learning curve for everybody."

STOMP presents unique material challenges for the production team. "The show is originally from England, and a lot of the sounds were developed with materials over there, so we have to import most of them," Botchis explains. "The brooms are sourced from England--they were originally made for outdoor sweeping. The shopping carts, too, we can't get here--European-style shopping carts have four wheels that spin, and you can't get those in the U.S."

Maintaining the materials and the venue is also more difficult than one would expect. "We have a lot of stuff that breaks. We're always replacing the floor or welding shopping carts together," Botchis says. "The stage actually gets replaced every three to four weeks. It's played like a drum, and the smaller items actually do the most damage. They crack the shell of the stage and then the sound isn't right."

STOMP's greatest strength arguably is its universal accessibility. Music lovers, seasoned theatergoers, first-time visitors, and the musically-challenged can all enjoy something about the performance. "People love the show because it's so entertaining and the message is so universal--everything has a heartbeat, a life beat, and it's about finding that in yourself and in everything around you," Botchis says. "Everybody can relate to it. There's no one that doesn't like music, and there's no one that doesn't like to see something done in a new way. There's a universal appeal--it's exciting and there's so much energy."

By Ettractions Digital Content Editor EMILY JARMOLOWICZ

Photographs by Steve McNicholas, STOMP Co-creator

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