Danahey on the Loose at Stomp

Tubular rhythm from Stomp
Tubular rhythm from Stomp

If you’re looking for a show that’s festive and that might  get your mind off the holidays, Stomp is afoot at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place.

In case you’re not familiar, Stomp is one of those theatrical experiences that arose in the 1990s, like Riverdance, Blue Man Group and Cirque du Soleil that connected with pop culture and became franchises.

Stomp’s schtick, if you will, is having dancing percussionists use ordinary objects to create rhythmic pieces for 105 minutes or so of fun. The audience is invited on quite a few occasions to clap along as part of the action.

Aside from clapping hands, things begin simple enough with beats from brooms sweeping a floor on a set that looks like it could be an alley, a garage or one of those chain restaurants that puts all sorts of found objects up on the walls.

Past the brooms, the list of makeshift instruments includes rubber tubes, inner tube matchboxes, basketballs, buckets of all sorts, lids, cigarette lighters, shopping carts, 5-gallon plastic water jugs, wooden poles, things you might find in a garbage can and even kitchen sinks.

A quieter, lighter moment from Stomp
A quieter, lighter moment from Stomp

It was also nice to see the cast keeping print journalism alive in a scene that repurposes old fashioned newspapers – and copies of Chicago Cubs-related editions to elicit audience enthusiasm. (It made me wonder of some of the parents at the performance I attended had to explain what a newspaper is to their kids on the ride home.)

Like the other 90s theatrical experiences mentioned above there’s not any dialogue. The show does have a giddy energy similar to cartoons or some silent movies (if you could imagine one scored with drums instead of piano).

It’s all pretty kid friendly, too, with no intermission a fast pace and a couple pee-pee jokes about the only things that even remotely come close to being risque. Come to think of it, with no intermission, it is risky to make pee-pee jokes.

Pals ponder Stomp

Best Fest Buddy Tom noted Stomp is a bit drum corps and a bit drill team, and I did feel like going to a Big 10 football game after some of the numbers.

Other theatergoing buddy, Traci Clarke, had wanted to see the show for quite some time, and she enjoyed it.

We thought we could compare it to Riverdance, but there wasn’t much to compare but for the “wow” factor  – in Stomp’s case for the intricacy of creating the moves and beats with feet, hands and objects, while in Riverdance it’s the intricacy of choreographed Irish step dancing.

Always thinking, we put our three heads together for our own spectacular, Celtic Stomp, which would use objects from Ireland (Jameson bottles, Blarney stones, sheep, Bono’s sunglasses) and from those dresses Irish dancers wear to create rhythms and throws in some purple lighting, smoke and flowing gowns for good measure.

I was kind of hoping they would have had Stomp kits for sale in the merchandise booth with some of the makeshift instruments. Think of what a fun gift that would make for to the brother or sister you don’t see too often and their 5-year-old kid you brought to the show as only a great uncle would do.

It’s nice, too, that this show is playing at Christmas season – because sometimes you just want to have family fun at the holidays without constantly being reminded it’s the holidays. This jovial show fits that bill.

For tickets and more information, see http://www.broadwayinchicago.com/show/stomp-2016/.

Shopping carts stomping about
Shopping carts stomping about