‘STOMP’ brings rhythm and joy to Hancher

The award-winning production of ‘STOMP’ brought rhythm and joy to Hancher Auditorium on Saturday, Jan. 21 as part of Hancher’s “Golden Anniversary” lineup.


Created by Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas © Steve McNicholas

Stella Shipman, Arts Reporter

On Saturday afternoon, shadows cast by white stage lights danced across the walls of Hancher Auditorium as deep bass and the sharp stomping of boots reverberated through the audience like a heartbeat.

Every seat was filled for the Jan. 21 matinee show of the award-winning production of “STOMP,” and the crowd was absolutely enamored by the performance, unable to tear their eyes away from the stage or the two-level upcycled set that the performers used as their own drum set.

Being a Hancher fan favorite and a highly reputable show, tickets for the award-winning production of “STOMP” quickly sold to book a performance Saturday matinee as well as the evening performance.

First performed in London in 1991, “STOMP” is a production that revolves around percussion with found objects and body movement. It was a show originally created in Dublin for a comedy musical street band called the “Pookiesackenburger,” now called “The Yes/No People.”

In 1994, the production arrived on Broadway at the Orpheum Theatre in New York City. Since then, it has delivered 11,475 performances over the span of 26 years.

“STOMP” has recently brought its incredible Broadway career to a close with its final performance at the Orpheum Theater at the end of this month. For a final farewell, the production is touring internationally and across North America. Iowa City was lucky enough to host them on this tour in Hancher’s new auditorium for the first time.

Among the objects featured in the show were brooms, mops, barrels, metal buckets, metal sinks, copper pipes, newspapers, plastic bags, tubes, trash cans, matchboxes, shopping carts, and lighters. Every object was one that could typically be found anywhere.

Throughout the show, each performer contributed their own choreographed rhythm. The layering of these rhythms created intricate musical sequences of harmonies and synchronicity.

A central theme of “STOMP” is experimenting with sound. Oftentimes during the show, the performers emphasized this by interacting with objects like they were discovering their sound for the first time.

RELATED: Hancher to present ‘STOMP’ for Golden Anniversary season

“STOMP” is unique because it features no dialogue. To keep audiences entertained and engaged, the performers communicated with strong facial expressions and passionate body language. The performers characterized themselves with their own styles and interacted in often humorous ways.

In fact, comedy was a large aspect of the show. The audience laughed just as loudly as they cheered, filling the auditorium with joy. Attendee Susie Esminger from Fort Madison recognized this joy, especially in the younger audiences.

“The laughter of the children, I mean, they were just enamored by it,” Esminger said. “I even thought my own grandson would have loved to see that. Yeah, it was just phenomenal.”

The show also emphasized that one’s own body is the simplest instrument. By stomping, clapping, and snapping, the performers created sounds and rhythms that rivaled any of those produced from found objects.

They reminded the audience that nobody needs to be a professional dancer or an athlete to be able to use their body as a tool for music. Anyone can do so because anyone can move.

To demonstrate this, the cast conducted call-and-response exercises throughout the show, which reminded the audience that their presence mattered and suggested that those in the audience were fellow “stompers.”

Audience member Samantha Miller from Fairfield, Iowa, who attended with her friend Lynn Pearson, believed “STOMP” sent important messages about “being good to the planet, recycling, and finding the beauty in found objects.”

Overall, “STOMP” succeeded in bringing joy to audience members and inspiring them to think about everyday objects differently.

“I think we should go to the grocery store and check out some grocery carts,” Pearson said.