The Pantages Theatre
The one piece of advice I can give anyone in watching this outstanding production is this: bring a bottle of extra strength Excedrin tablets. The collage of soft tinkering sounds to full blown loud banging will make your headache mimic those sounds after you leave. And if you don’t bring the aspirin, the harmonic noise will be worth the risk. A collage of dirty barrels, long and small pieces of rubber tubing, beyond dented rash cans, dirty brooms and mops and grimy traffic signs, tin lids, hang neatly above the performers. The unclean floor and the noise, all at once, can and will be tolerated.
A fusion of pop-rock-jazz music fills the air as the audience waits for the show. Out from the darkness comes out Maryland native Justin Myles a tall, lanky young performer with black spiky hair. He quickly realizes there’s an audience watching him as he sweeps and make inaudible noises. He continues to play with his broom; making it go it tap-tap-tap as fellow sweeper John Angeles, displaying defined muscles and a skill with the broom, assists Myles. Just as quickly as Angeles arrives, comic relief comes in the form of Michael R. Landis, dressed like a chubby school youngster who got beat up by other kids in school moves playfully around. He’s hoping the big boys will invite him to join their club. He deserves much love and respect for performing with a knee brace. His comic timing comes in handy when the cast begins with a semi-serious piece and Landis comes in to add his comic flair and gets a lot of hearty laughs.
For those who are STOMP fans, they know what to segments to expect. There’s the sound made on a box of matches segment. Then there’s the all time favorite kitchen sink routine. Myles, Hawaiian born Gillaume Carreira, looking good in cornrows and bringing back b-boy breaking moves from back in the day, dred-locked wearing Elec Simon and Angeles take regular household items: large spoon, tin cups, fill their standing up sink with water and make it go away. Simon had more water than necessary so it took him a little while longer to shake it off.
The chair sequence was clearly up to STOMP standers Cast members struck the back of the chairs, lift it up and hit it hard on the floor and eventually slide them to one another. On a lighter note, the cast becomes more subdued. A routine using the sound and flickering of flames of cigarette lighters until it’s all blown out. Then there are the almost poetic spinnings of ordinary huge gallon water bottles away into oblivion.
The comical version wasn’t left behind. Landis sits on a chair on stage looking through the newspaper. As each member comes in to join him, they become loud. They breathe loud; they cough loud and rip up the paper loudly when they are done. Simon, becomes the most boisterous with his crazy antics. He tears up strips of the paper and uses it as hula skirt, then pretends he’s a baby escaping his mother’s womb and so on. Poor Landis, just wanted to read his paper in piece.
Another stand-out performance came from E. Donisha Brown. From the beginning, she was on fire until the very end. She played the hell out of the two huge orange containers. Even using something as simple as a plastic bag people get from the supermarket, and makes it into a Stradivarius. Brown’s percussionist skills are fascinating to watch and admire. She held her own and gave a little bit extra.
The finale was fantastic, heart stopping, original and the best routine seen in a decade. The lengths these performers are admirable. They use everyday items and make a funky-beat sound to a sweet lullaby. STOMP separates itself from other production, not only because of its originality but allowing audience participation. Myles would clap his hands and signal the audience to repeat. When he comes a little more complicated the audience gets lost. He connected with the audience in making them feel apart of the show. He noticed one audience member who wouldn’t participate so Myles gave him the I-have-my-eye-on-you hand gesture, pointing his index and middle fingers to the man and back himself. It’s all about having fun and entrenching yourself into the STOMP world . You will smile more, be kinder or even begin your own STOMP production. You never know!
Stomp runs Wednesday and Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. wraps up and Sunday February 7 at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. at the Pantages Theatre located at 6233 Hollywood Blvd. Tickets available online at www.broadwayla.org or by phone 800-982-2787 or at the Pantages Box Office open daily at 10 a.m.